Long walks were common in the early days of the Whanganui Summer Programme but not so much now.
However, several walks are on the 2022 programme, the longest of which took place last Saturday. This was the 17km Remutaka Rail Trail, the old railway line over the Remutaka Range which is now popular for walking and cycling.
A group of 23 was accompanied by Graeme Jupp, who commentated on features of the route and told stories of the Fell engines and the famous incline. He has walked the trail nearly 50 times and is associated with the Fell Locomotive Museum in Featherston which the group visited after the five-and-a-half-hour walk.
Summer programme excursions to come which also involve bushwalking, though not as long or hard as the rail trail, are the Bridge to Nowhere, Ohakune Old Coach Rd and Lake Rotokare.
The WSP schedule over the next week is: —
Bridge to Nowhere Thursday, January 20. Reasonable fitness required. Wear sturdy footwear, bring rain wear and jacket for river journey. BYO lunch and day pack. Hot drinks at lunch provided. Bus to Pipiriki, followed by 32km jet boat ride and 3km bushwalk.
The Bridge to Nowhere is a poignant monument to 71 returned soldiers who farmed here after WWI. The Government later withdrew its support and demanded they leave. They were in effect 'dishonourably discharged' with little to show for their efforts. Their houses and farm buildings were burned down to prevent their return. Depart 8am. Return approximately 5.30pm. Adult $160, child $120.
Museum Gallery Tour Thursday, January 20. Wheelchair access. A tour of the galleries led by Programmes Presenter Lisa Reweti, telling the Whanganui Story through 10 objects. Time 1-2pm. Meet in the Atrium, Whanganui Regional Museum, Watt St. Suitable for people 15 years and over. $5 per person. Book directly with the museum. Phone 06 349 1110.
Road to Springvale Friday, January 21. Short walks. BYO morning tea, lunch, snacks, drinks and, if you wish, a labelled folding chair to use at lunch. Visit the dramatic high country sheep station region of the central North Island. We travel on the remote Taihape to Napier road. Enjoy a late morning tea with some Moawhango locals at their former general store, now a club. Lunch at the graceful historic Springvale wooden suspension bridge. We then go on to meet the manager of Erewhon, the largest sheep station in the North Island, in the grounds of the homestead. Depart 8am. Return approximately 6pm. Adult $48, child $30.
Evening Talk: Tall Timber and Tall Stories Tuesday, January 25. Wheelchair access. In 1982 Paul Mahoney started his heritage career with three years based in Hokitika developing West Coast heritage projects. Some former bush tramway routes were to be developed into walking tracks. Paul tracked down the relevant forest history by interviewing 70 old-timers in their homes. The best of these West Coast stories and photographs are put together into this talk. Start 7.30pm. Venue Davis Theatre, Whanganui Regional Museum, Watt St. Adult $5, child free. No booking necessary although numbers are limited.
Museum Collection Tour, Wednesday, January 26. Wheelchair access. A tour of the collection stores to see the treasures that tell the story of Whanganui, led by collection manager Trish Nugent-Lyne. Time 11am-midday. Meet in the Atrium, Whanganui Regional Museum, Watt St. Suitable for people 15 years and over. $5 per person. Book directly with the museum. Phone 06 349 1110.
Ohakune Old Coach Rd, Wednesday, January 26. Reasonable fitness required. A 14km four-hour walk. Sturdy footwear, rain wear and BYO lunch, snacks and drinks. New Zealanders became very excited in 1905 at the prospect of a train journey linking Auckland to Wellington - so excited that the Government built a stone-paved coach road to connect the north and south railheads. This allowed the overland journey to commence two years before the rails were joined. When trains started in 1908 the route was abandoned. It became overgrown and forgotten until its resurrection in 2008 as a historic walking and cycle track. Depart 8am. Return approximately 5.30pm. Adult $29, child $19.
Forgotten World Highway, Thursday, January 27. Short walks only. Sturdy footwear and rain wear. BYO morning tea and lunch or this can be purchased at Lauren's Lavender Farm & Cafe. This trip is a perennial favourite but we are doing it differently this year, going to Taumarunui and covering the whole of the Forgotten World Highway to Stratford including the beautiful, rugged and bush-clad Tangarakau Gorge. There will be time to explore Whangamomona. A long but satisfying day. Depart 7am. Return approximately 8pm. Adult $59, child $25.
Vaccine passes are required to join summer programme trips. Book at the Whanganui i-SITE or online.