Adventurer II skipper Robert "Baldy" Baldwin is ready to give up on his Whanganui riverboat venture - but, at 62, plans to start a new one elsewhere on the river.

A former champion canoeist and long-time "river rat", Baldwin built the $400,000, 19.5m Adventurer II and launched it in 2010. He wanted to run trips in the middle reaches of the Whanganui River, between Whakahoro and Pipiriki.

Now he's ready to walk away from the boat, saying his business partners and Whanganui District Council have not been supportive.

"It's heart wrenching. I really can't put into words how I feel about it. The only way I can get out of it is to get back on the river in another boat," he said.


The Adventurer II could end up sunk at its mooring, as the Waimarie did before it was resurrected in 2000.

Baldwin Adventure Tours was registered in 2009 and has two directors, Robert "Baldy" Baldwin and Terrence (Bob) Harris. Both are shareholders. The third shareholder is Joseph "Jos" Ebben.

The riverboat Adventurer II hasn't been out much for the last few years. Photo / Bevan Conley.
The riverboat Adventurer II hasn't been out much for the last few years. Photo / Bevan Conley.

Harris got involved to boost Whanganui tourism, he said, but it didn't work out for him.

He didn't want to comment further. He has applied to the High Court to liquidate the company.

The matter will be heard on October 30, in Whanganui. If the court agrees, a liquidator will be appointed to call in assets and pay out any creditors, then wind the company up.

There are no creditors, Baldwin says. He doesn't know what will happen to the boat he sold his house and worked 12 hours a day and seven days a week for six months to build.

His dream of renewed Whanganui River tourism has had a few ups and a lot of downs.

In June 2010, when the river was high, he made the first round trip from Whanganui to Taumarunui in 82 years in the shallow draught diesel-powered boat.


He made a second one, "on the spur of the moment" after Sir Archie Taiaroa died.

There have surely been adventures - navigating rapids by torch light, spending the night in the moored boat during a river flood, and rescuing passengers from the stricken Waimarie paddle steamer in 2015.

Often the river is too low for the boat to work the upper reaches, and the bookings haven't rolled in as Baldwin hoped. In the lower reaches there are two competing boats, the Wairua and Waimarie.

There has also been opposition, too.

Jetboat operators haven't wanted him to clear logs that would let the boat through rapids.

And one night in 2010 in Aramoho a group of gang members arrived to torch His beloved vessel - but left when Baldwin released two rottweilers.

It was all pretty stressful and Baldwin had a major stroke late that year.

He battled for years to regain His strength and managed to get his skipper certificate back in July 2014.

His boat has been repeatedly vandalised, mooring costs are expensive and Whanganui District Council wanted to charge him $20,000 after the Adventurer II was pushed under the river boardwalk, damaging it, in 2016.

It didn't in the end, Baldwin says, because he was honouring his side of a bargain.

"Personally, I haven't had an honest and fair deal in Whanganui. The council haven't done anything to help. My business partners are unhappy, and they haven't been very supportive," he said.

For the past few years the Adventurer hasn't been out much. Now it needs a survey, and money spent on it.

Baldwin was ready to completely give up on river navigation, but couldn't.

"The river sort of eats away at you. In the end I can't give it away. It's who I am," he said.

He's planning to take his dream elsewhere on the river, and operate on his own. He's been negotiating for another boat. If he doesn't get it, he says he'll build a new one.