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Whanganui Bridge to Nowhere things to do

  • 3 minutes

Wanganui, North Island

Discover the legacy of a BRIDGE TO NOWHERE,  leading to abandoned farms … a concrete arch leading to regenerating forest. Ponder the fate of soldiers whose dreams failed.

The Bridge To Nowhere is a key attraction of the Whanganui National Park and a must-go destination for the Whanganui Journey – one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.

Explore the abandoned bridge in the heart of the Whanganui National Park. The concrete bridge spans the Mangapurua Stream in the Whanganui National Park.

  • The bridge to nowhere has no connecting roads (they were never completed; just paper roads)
  • Access is by hiking or mountain bike over mountains or the Whanganui River to a 40 minute walking track.

Exhausted, four years of violent war and you’re finally back in New Zealand. As a reward World War I soldiers were offered back breaking toil of farming in virgin bush in the back of beyond. The idea failed and the soldier farmers eventually abandoned the farms.

Originally the soldiers – farmers had access to a wooden suspension bridge connecting the newly opened bush to the Whanganui river boats plying the river with goods, services and people.

The plan was that settlers would be connected to Raetihi and Taranaki with a solid bridge and modern road system. The new concrete bridge opened in 1936. The bridge to nowhere is over 39 metres above the stream below. Yet it was a hollow opening as the majority of the Mangapurua settlers had abandoned their holdings. The remote area was unforgivingly difficult; erosion, remote location and very poor communications lead to abandoned recently cleared farm plots. By 1942 only three farmers reamined. By 1944 there was nobody. The government abandoned plans for new roads and maintenance of any infrastructure.


  1. Easy 40 minute walk from Mangapurua Landing (on the Whanganui River). The river landing is a 45 minute jet boat ride from the small Whanganui settlement of Pipiriki.
  2. Canoe from Taumarunui or Whakahoro ( 3 / 4 day canoe ride)
  3. Mountain bike or hike Mangapurua Track ( 5 – 7 hours)


Our Tours | Bridge to Nowhere | Whanganui River are locals whose headquarters is Pipiriki, a historic Maori village nestled within the Whanganui forest. Mountain biking, tramping (hiking), canoeing or simply a jet boat ride to the Bridge to Nowhere there are various tour options available. Consider staying overnight and exploring the area further.



The River is a person : “I am the river, and the river is me” The Whanganui River has gained its own legal identity with all the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person. Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) established the river as an indivisible and living whole from the mountains to the sea.

The road is approximately 79 km in length and is carved from the cliffs surrounding the river. It is the only scenic driving route alongside a river in New Zealand. Sections of the road are gravel. Whanganui River road is a trip from mountains to the sea, it is a trip into the history of settlement of New Zealand reaching back 900 years. A special journey for New Zealanders. Visitors are invited to explore Aotearoa NZ, its timeless landscapes and human connections reaching back into time.

… read more about this evocative road trip … Pipiriki is a key stop on the Whanganui River Road day trip guide, itinerary, what to do: Best Bits.


Department of Conservation

Frequently asked questions about the Whanganui Bridge to nowhere

The best time to visit the Whanganui Bridgeto Nowhere is between November to March as winter rains can daunting. However tours do run throughout the year.

Warm waterproof clothing layers, water and snacks. There are compostable toilets in the Department of Conservation managed areas.

Allow one day to get to and from the Whanganui Bridge to Nowhere and time to explore the area.

To visit the Whanganui Bridge to Nowhere on a jet boat trip your fitness levels should allow you to walk for 1 hour unaided.

Bridge to Nowhere, In the middle of the jungle of Wanganui on the northern Island of New Zealand
Bridge to nowhere

Weather in the Whanganui National Park

Official weather forecast service for area

When to go

Summer between November to April. In winter there is an increased likelihood of rock slips on the Whanganui River Road (access to Pipiriki).

WHANGANUI BRIDGE TO NOWHERE & WHANGANUI NATIONAL PARK  does not recognise modern boundaries.


  • Slow lane journey
  • Immersive experiences based around people and landscapes
  • Extraordinary unique destinations, special places where not many people go


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