Huts have been painted and campsites tidied ready for a busy summer season on the Whanganui River, Conservation Department ranger Jim Campbell says.

He's warning people who plan to paddle the river to book early.

"It looks like it's going to be a busy season. Our concessionaires are saying there have been a lot of bookings already."

After some incidents last summer, health and safety practices on the river are also getting a tune-up.


"Last year there were some concessionaires or people appearing on the river without being prepared enough," Mr Campbell said.

Some canoeists were put on the river late in the day, and arrived at huts after dark. Some were completely unprepared for weather changes.

A tougher line could be taken in future. The department (DOC) has had meetings with police and concessionaires to discuss rules, regulations and consequences.

Police and Search and Rescue staff will be doing exercises on the river this summer, to be prepared for accidents such as a jetboat with 25 people capsizing, or a mountainbike or quad bike going over a cliff.

"There will be a lot more police on the river."

More routine preparation has been done as well, Mr Campbell said.

The interiors of Tieke and John Coull huts have been painted, flood damage repaired and campsites on the river and Mangapurua and Kaiwhakauka tracks have been brought up to standard.

Temporary toilets at John Coull Hut will be replaced with new permanent ones by Christmas.

A recent slip on the Mangapurua Track still needs repair, and cyclists are asked to walk their bikes around it. The Kaiwhakauka Track is to get more work to make it suitable for cyclists.

The Atene Skyline Track is open, and windfalls on it will be cleared over the summer. The track to Trains Hut in the Waitotara Conservation Area will be officially open soon.