Foodies and adventurers have been treated to a unique experience on the Whanganui River this summer.
Hiakai: Te Awa o Whanganui combines a pop-up fine dining restaurant, run by award-winning chef Monique Fiso, with jetboating and canoeing on the river and an overnight stay at Puraroto Camp Ground, 5 kilometres upriver from Pipiriki.
Jay Cripps, who built his home at Puraroto and set up the campground for river travellers, said the 2017/18 summer trips have been extremely popular.
"Whanganui River Adventures jetboats the guests up from Pipiriki to the campground," Mr Cripps said.
"International chef Monique Fiso has set up a pop-up restaurant, Hiakai, at the campground and cooks a six-course evening meal with a focus on Māori cuisine. The guests spend the night in dome tents at the campground then the next day canoe the Whanganui River back to Pipiriki with Hayden Potaka of Unique Whanganui River Experience."
Mr Cripps said it was a unique opportunity to spend time on the Whanganui River.
"People have come for the food experience initially but the twist is they really enjoy the river experience as well. They learn about the history of the river, its importance to Māori and its status as a legal entity."
Hiakai pop-up restaurant caters for 10 people per trip. It is the latest in a series of pop-up restaurants Ms Fiso has operated, devoted to the exploration and development of Māori cooking techniques and ingredients. The initiative won the Innovation in Māori Development category of the 2017 New Zealand Innovation Awards.
Ms Fiso honed her skills in some of New Zealand's and New York's top kitchens, including Michelin-starred The Musket Room, PUBLIC Restaurant, A Voce and Martin Bosley's.
The final Hiakai trip for the summer is on Saturday March 3 after the season was extended because of demand.