Dory Trips

Season: November to March – see departure dates below

Travel the iconic Whanganui Journey in a speciality wooden river dory. These beautiful boats carry you comfortably down the Whanganui River and through the National Park. This is a unique way in which to experience New Zealand’s most popular river trip.

Duration: 4 days


PER PERSON – 4 days Trip

Departure Dates

  • 4-8th Nov 2024
  • 8-12th Dec 2024
  • 19-23rd Jan 2025
  • 22-26th Feb 2025
  • 27-31st March 2025

Please note: This trip requires a minimum of 2 adult fares to run. If you are a solo, please contact our reception on 0800 248666 or check our list of guaranteed departures, to join an existing trip.

The Whanganui Journey from Taumarunui to Pipiriki is New Zealand’s most popular multi day river trip.

In times past this river was a highway not only for Maori in dugout canoes, but also from the late 1800s for the famous paddle steamers. At one time these steamers were transporting up to 10000 people a year up and down the river, and as well as this early tourist work they were also servicing farms, Maori communities and providing a vital transportation link to the central North Island.

The completion of the Main Trunk rail line lead to the eventual demise of the steamers, with the last regular services abandoned by the mid 1900s.

In the mid 1800s estimates of the Maori population on the river ranged into the thousands. There is little doubt that it was extensively settled with numerous kainga (settlements) and fortified pa. However the arrival of settlers with European diseases, warfare and the sale of land lead to the alienation of the inhabitants with their ancestral lands. This resulted in the Maori population on the river plummeting over the following decades.

By the mid 1960s few people still lived on the section of river that now constitutes the Whanganui Journey. The forest for the most part has reclaimed the abandoned Maori kainga. The forest has also reclaimed European settler efforts to turn the steep hill country into farmland.

The most well known of these is in the Mangapurua Valley where a combination of terrain and isolation defeated the settlers. The only remnant of that time is the famous “Bridge to Nowhere” which all our trips visit.

Who is a Dory Trip For?

Travelling on a river dory is perfect for those with an adventurous spirit but whose body may not be as fit for purpose as it once was. The dories offer the opportunity to comfortably experience the iconic Whanganui River Journey without enduring the hard slog of paddling a canoe.

Some fitness and agility are, however, still required. You need to be able to board the dory and exit the dory without assistance. You need to be able to walk on uneven ground when walking up from the river to each night’s campsite. You will need to assist in taking some of the lighter equipment from the boat up to camp each afternoon and returning to where the boat is beached each morning. You do not have to row the boat😊

Having this basic fitness and level of agility will enhance your trip experience.

Why Travel The Whanganui River in a Wooden Dory?

River Dories provide a level of comfort, charm and elegance that you simply do not get with other boats. The boats are dry for passengers, quick on the water and have ample space to carry quality camping equipment. This enables you to camp in style.


You can fully enjoy the sights of the Whanganui River without the labour of paddling a canoe. You can fully immerse yourself in the experience without the worry of falling out and getting valuable equipment wet or damaged. An added bonus is that being a guided trip you will gain insights that you may not have otherwise.

Reading on a Dory

What is included

  • The First night includes ensuite accommodation at Blue Duck Station at Whakahoro with dinner and breakfast at Blue Duck
  • All meals
  • Quality camping equipment (except sleeping bags) including tents and sleeping stretchers.
  • Camping fees at Department of Conservation campsites
  • All river gear including paddle pants, lifejacket, and on cooler days, neoprene gloves and neoprene socks
  • 4 days on the Whanganui River with a knowledgable guide. Stopping to see interesting sights along the way, like the Bridge to Nowhere.

What to bring

  • Swimwear and towel
  • Sleeping bags
  • A complete gear list will be sent to you on booking, or can be found in the trip itinerary

The River

The river flows quiet and swift
It twists and turns as the waters drift
It branches and breaks—its fingers entwine
It grows and grows—snakes like a vine.

The river with the soft scent of a calm day
With the smell of clean—hanging—still—in the grey
And sweetness carried on the breath of morning
It caresses the river—the waters flowing.

The river—crystalline from winter melt
And sweet with the summer soon felt
It tastes of springtime—the season between
And flows the river—so blue and clean.

The river—its lazy trickle of water
The musical rhythm—the ocean’s daughter
It whispers and murmurs—a song of its own
Playing over and over—in continuous drone.

The river—so clear and cool
The water flows—the color like a jewel
Its soft arms embrace the shore
The river surging from the days before.

The river flows quiet and swift
It twists and turns as the waters drift
It branches and breaks—its fingers in twine
It grows and grows—snakes like a vine.

The River Flows
Kailey Jennings

Have any questions?

Speak to one of our friendly adventure consultants who would love to help you out. / 0800 248666