Rangitikei, Manawatu and Wairarapa are venues for a mixture of the old and new on Whanganui Summer Programme trips in 2020, says WSP trustee Dave Scoullar.
He says a visit last year to the picturesque Pohangina Valley, north of Palmerston North, was so successful it called for a revisit but the itinerary on January 5 will be different.
After morning tea at Ashhurst, the bus heads up the valley for a new gentle bush walk of about one hour. Lunch is beside the river and later the bus heads for a fascinating clock museum at Colyton followed by Kitchener Park in Feilding, considered a "hidden treasure", getting close to some of the oldest and most valuable trees in the Manawatu.

On January 10 historian John Vickers will lead visits to favourite heritage houses in the Rangitikei including a new inclusion. As a bonus there is the opportunity to be shown through the house interiors by the owners. Dave notes this trip is already well supported, as usual.

How many people have heard of the Whitecliffs Boulders near Mangaweka but never been there? On January 11 Esther Williams guides participants to this hidden gem, a magical, eerie goblin forest full of spherical geological concretions preserved on private land beside the scenic Rangitikei River. Many boulders are seemingly struck asunder by blows from giant fists, the resulting crevices picturesquely colonised by trees and creeping roots. There is the possibility of a dip, too, so bring swimwear. This is an old trip revived after many years, Dave says.

The Road to Springvale on January 22 is an old favourite. Travel the scenic Taihape/Napier Rd via the historic village of Moawhango to the old Springvale Suspension Bridge, returning to Erewhon Station for a picnic lunch and a chance to learn about farming in the high country. This is big, impressive terrain and this station in the 1870s carried around 80,000 sheep with the wool taken to Napier by packhorses or mules.


Another favourite is the Coast to Coast — Tasman Sea to Pacific Ocean and back in a day. On January 23 Grant Cooper from Horizons Regional Council guides the journey from through the Manawatu to Pongaroa in the northern Wairarapa and on to the beach community of Akitio for lunch and a paddle or swim. Learn about land formations and local history, the Seventy Mile Bush and coastal sheep stations.

The new trip on January 24, dubbed a Manawatu Meander, begins with a visit to Feilding's famous farmers' market, then beautiful Mt Lees Reserve for lunch and to enjoy the sheltered bush walk. On the homeward leg there is a visit to the Bulls Museum and a couple of nearby historical sites including the grave of Bess, one of only four horses that returned to New Zealand from World War I.

Finally, on January 27, it is a hop over the Ruahine Range on the Saddle Rd, first viewing the Manawatu wind turbine farm, then stopping for lunch and a self-guided walk around the attractions of Woodville — you may be surprised at the interesting places to visit. Then on to Mangatainoka for a guided tour of the famous Tui Brewery where souvenirs and beer are available to purchase. Return home via the Pahiatua Track.

Book trips at the Whanganui i-SITE, Taupo Quay.