Conditions were perfect for two Te Araroa Trail walkers who crossed the Turakina River on a lowish tide on Christmas Eve, heading for the coastal settlement of Koitiata.
They were watched by trail chief executive Mark Weatherall, Rangitīkei mayor Andy Watson, Whanganui Te Araroa trustee Brian Doughty and Koitiata resident Alan Benson.
The men wanted to see the crossing themselves because Koitiata resident Jim Mant has said it is dangerous, and that residents have rescued several walkers who attempted it.
About 5pm on Christmas Eve the first walker to cross was Anouk Bommer, who is from the Netherlands. Her Facebook page says she is on a "personal journey back to nature". The river was mid-thigh at its deepest for her, and she crossed at the trail's marked point.
Forty minutes later Romanian walker Lonel Blaga did the same.
"He did the whole nine yards. He took his shorts off and put a waterproof cover over his pack and he never even got his undies wet," Benson said.
Seeing the crossing set the men's minds at rest.
"I'm more than comfortable with what I saw," Weatherall said.
Watson was also "much happier".
"By the time walkers get to that crossing they have already crossed several rivers, so they're well used to the process, and they will have far more crossings to do in the South Island, and some of those are a heck of a lot more difficult that this one," Watson said.
He was impressed with the marking and signs for the crossing, and the advice to cross only at low tide.
Walkers can avoid the crossing by walking State Highway 3 (SH3) and Turakina Beach Rd, but Watson would much rather people crossed the river than spent more time on SH3.
He's thrilled the 3000km national trail crosses his district.
Weatherall agrees the river crossing would be dangerous if done at high tide, as Koitiata residents have said. Benson said walkers only have to follow the guidelines in their trail notes.
"You can put all the signage and marker poles in to give people a safe access, but if they choose to ignore it there's nothing you can do."