With the Grand Daughters on the Whanganui River

I tossed and turned that night after making the offer. An offer which was immediately accepted I might add.

What was that offer?

What had started as a very cruisy commercial four day dory trip on the Whanganui River, with me basically offering advice and doing a little rowing while Eddie and Janey did all the hard work had changed. At River Valley, the week ahead had suddenly got very busy, meaning that Janey as River Valley Operations Manager really had to stay home. Our youngest daughter had just had her first baby in Auckland, our first grandson, which meant that my wife Nicola felt a strong urge to be Grandma on the scene. Coupled with that, our middle daughter, Melissa, also felt she needed to be on the baby scene as Aunty.

It was one of those times when there was “a lot on”!

But what about the oldest three granddaughters, two eight-year olds and one ten-year-old? This is where Granddad stepped in and made the offer.

“How would you all like me to take the grand daughters on the Whanganui dory trip? I will put an extra dory on, and Eddie and I will take a boat each.”

What Had I Let Myself in for?

To be fair, all the girls had done some river trips, even a couple of multi day campouts. But this would be the first time without their parents. Added to this was the length of time, leaving on Monday and back on Friday.

Accommodation on Monday night staying at Blue Duck Station, then three nights camping in tents at DOC campsites along the way.

Excitement in the Air

As we left River Valley there was a palpable sense of excitement amongst the children. Grandad had decided that they were big girls now and as much as possible, needed to look after themselves. Their clothing, sleeping bags and pillows were in dry bags. They had brought torches, sand fly repellent, sun block, books to read, journals to write in, and games to play. Other than cameras, there were no “devices”. They were sorted.

Conversation during the first afternoon of travel and that night at Blue Duck, was often interrupted with statements such as “Granddad, I am so excited”. Sleep that night did not come easy to three little girls.

Throughout that first day, and the days that followed, me, or the other guide Eddie, would have to answer a barrage of questions;

What’s for breakfast today? What’s for breakfast tomorrow?

What’s for lunch?

What’s for dinner?

Are there anymore rapids? (hoping that there were)

When are we doing the Bridge to Nowhere walk?

How long to camp?

Can we go for a swim now?

Are there anymore rapids (again hoping that there were!)

kids on a whanganui dories trip
Isla on a whanganui dories trip
whanganui river dories multi-day trip
kids on a whanganui dories trip
whanganui river dories multi-day trip


To be sure it was not all plain sailing. There was a reasonable level of bickering. As anyone who has looked after three children will know, two is often company, but three is a crowd. There were a couple of tantrums, but there were also many more happy moments.

Children engaged with each other, the other people on the trip, and where they were. Children exploring along beaches at camp. Children reading on the boats and at camp. Children building stories (stories built where each person can add a sentence then pass it on to the next person). Children captivated by waterfalls, caves and wild goats.

To me it was really pleasing how adaptable and for the most part, self-sufficient, they were.


A multi day river guide works hard. Up early in the morning and sleeping the good sleep of weariness at night. Three young grand daughters on the trip meant that I certainly did the latter extra well.

The memories I have will last a long time. I hope the girls will come to recognise this trip as a special time in their lives as well.

Last Words

I will leave the last words to Keeva.

Janey, Keeva’s mum, asked her, “What were three highlights of the trip?”

The last big rapid (the wave train at Autapu)

The stories we made in the boats



Brian Megaw

kids on a whanganui dories trip

The Three Grand Daughters and Eddie On The Whanganui River

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