We started our early morning adventure to the Bridge to Nowhere by driving up the Whanganui River road. This narrow (think enough for one car, but meant for two), winding road was a little nerve-racking, especially with people coming at you at 100kmh and not even slowing down! We made our way the 2 hours through small towns and over sealed and unsealed roads to Pipriki, the end of the road. We easily found Whanganui River Adventures for our next leg, a jet boat ride up the river.
We were welcomed by the owners, Josephine and Ken and soon hopped into the van with Ken down to the river. Today we were the only two on the tour! We jumped into the jet boat for a 50-minute journey up the river, stopping occasionally for some wonderful history about the river and to see some of the many inlets and waterfalls. The river is the longest navigable river in New Zealand and was once the only “road” in the area. The journey up was beautiful, great and quiet. Except for a few kayakers and people in canoes we were the only ones on the river.
Ken took us up to the landing where the 3 of us hiked in to the Bridge to Nowhere. The Bridge had been built in the 1930’s after many men had been placed there for farming through government loans. Unfortunately due to the worldwide depression most of the men ended up leaving soon after and the last few were essentially told they had to leave because the government was not going to maintain the roads they had put in. There were markers showing who had lived in some of the spots, now all regrown with lush forest. The 40-minute walk through the old farmlands, now the Whanganui National Forest, was beautiful. We made it to the look out point and climbed some steps for our first look at the Bridge to Nowhere. It was so bizarre to see such a well-built bridge, literally in the middle of nowhere!
We walked down and across the bridge where Ken had set up some coffee, hot chocolate and biscuits for us to enjoy. We all took out our picnic lunches and chatted while we enjoyed the scenery. After lunch Ken showed us a book full of old pictures describing more of the bridges history. It was fascinating. Ken had grown up in the area, living nearby and had many ties to the bridge. He and Josephine had even been married there! We asked lots of questions, took lots of pictures and Jason even spent some time inspecting the amazing construction of the bridge which has held up extremely well over the years.
We made our way back to the boat for the trip back to Pipriki. We stopped a few times to see some amazing falls before speeding back through the last 5 minutes of rain! Ken threw in an exhilarating 360-degree spin at the very end to send us off in true Kiwi style! The whole day was amazing and we really can’t recommend Whanganui River Adventures enough.