Te Araroa trail walkers have needed help to cross the Turakina River and reach the Koitiata settlement - and a resident fears accidents will happen.
But Te Araroa Whanganui Trust member Brian Doughty says most of the walkers are experienced and have crossed more dangerous rivers in the four to six weeks before they get here.
The Whanganui-Bulls route for walkers of the 3000km trail was changed this year to avoid a 20km walk on State Highway 3. The new route includes just 3km of SH3.
It heads down the coast from Whangaehu Beach to Koitiata, crossing the Turakina River near its mouth at low tide.
A Koitiata resident, who did not want to be named, reeled off four examples of people having trouble making the river crossing. In one, a local person went home and got his surfboard to put packs on and help get two people across.
In another incident, a 75-year-old went away and returned with a rope to help a woman across. During a third incident, he attempted the crossing in waders, found the river too high and told the walkers to wait another two hours, which they did.
On November 15 a French woman was "in a panic", he said. A group of locals helped her across.
"She was that upset, she couldn't get her tent up. They took her home and gave her a meal and put her to bed."
Walkers usually arrive at the river at the end of the day, and the tides will vary. Their trail notes warn them only to cross at low tide, Doughty said, and he has put markers at the best crossing place.
Sometimes the river is easy to cross, the resident said, but there are times when it is in flood and the weather is rough. It can have floating logs and quicksand, and its mouth shifts back and forth along the coast.
"The possibilities of an accident are very much there, not only for the walkers, but for the people on our side that are trying to help."
He also questioned whether No 2 Line between Whanganui and Fordell was safer for walkers than SH3. It has very little verge.
Doughty said it has much less traffic, and there will always be some walkers who will have trouble. He will be happy to talk to residents about their concerns.
The Whanganui-Bulls stretch has been an ongoing problem on the trail. Its creator, Geoff Chapple, said it should run along the coast from South Beach to Scotts Ferry, crossing the Whangaehu and Turakina rivers on footbridges.
Landowners were not happy with that - but if their views change the coastal route will again be possible. Doughty remains positive about its future.
"The whole walk is up for appraisal all of the time," he said.
The Koitiata resident likes the coastal/bridge idea too. He said it would make a wonderful two-day trip for Whanganui families. And he said Koitiata people enjoy having the walkers pass through in summer.
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"A good example would be two or three Christmases ago. We had a pot luck Christmas dinner and five of them came into the hall and had a lovely time with us."
One of those walkers, a Canadian woman, wrote back later to say it was one of her best memories of New Zealand.