Mangapurua/Kaiwhakauka valleys


Historic bridge, grassy flats and  old chimneys stacks. These, along with small stand of exotic trees which mark the sites of settlers homes are revealed to visitors of these valley settlements.

The popular Mangapurua and Kaiwhakauka tracks provide an interesting three day tramp through the area.


Historic Mangapurua Valley

Visit this valley where a rehabilitation farming settlement was established for returned serviceman.

Both the Mangapurua and Kaiwhakuka valleys were rehabilitation settlements where land was offered to returned soldiers following World War 1. The endeavours of these pioneers have provided a unique historic quality to this area. The pioneer settlers cleared the land of its forest and transformed it into farmland. At the peak of settlement there were 30 farms in the Mangapurua and 16 in the Kaiwhakauka.

Problems such as poor access, bad erosion and falling prices for stock during the Depression years forced most of the settlers to abandon their farms. The few remaining farmers were forced to leave in 1942 when the government, short of money, refused to maintain the flood damaged road.

Today this isolated valley is regenerating in native forest, but there are still signs of the original settlement for visitors to the area to see.

Bridge to Nowhere

Bridge to Nowhere, Mangapurua Valley.
Bridge to Nowhere, Mangapurua Valley

This large concrete bridge is an icon within the Whanganui National Park and a major visitor destination.

The bridge was constructed in the mid-1930s to provide road access to the lower and middle valley farms known as the Mangapurua Valley Soldiers Settlement.

By the time it was completed these areas of the Mangapurua Valley were deserted, the bridge rarely used and the construction of the road to the Whanganui River abandoned.

The “Bridge to Nowhere” is the largest and most intact structure relating to the former Mangapurua Valley Soldiers Settlement and has an Historic Places Trust Category I listing. The bridge remains as a trampers’ bridge at the southern access point to the Mangapurua Valley.

There are two ways to access the bridge site, either by a gentle 40 minute walk from the Mangapurua Landing on the Whanganui River, or by a two day tramp from Whakahoro Hut to the north via the Kaiwhakauka and Mangapurua Valleys.

History of the Bridge to Nowhere.


The Mangapurua/Kaiwhakauka valleys are located in the Whanganui National Park.

Getting there

The best way is to take a jet boat from Whakahoro down the historic Whanganui River to the Mangapurua Landing and begin the walk up the Mangapurua Valley from here. At the end of the valley follow the Kaiwhakauka Valley back to Whakahoro.


Historic sites Historic sites
Hunting Hunting
Mountain biking and cycling Mountain biking and cycling

Historic sites

Today these valley are regenerating in native forest, but there are still signs of the original settlement for visitors to see, including the Bridge to Nowhere.


High numbers of goats, low to medium numbers of fallow deer, red deer and pigs are present. Special restrictions apply and a permit is required.

Mountain biking and cycling

This section is part of the unique heritage Mountains to the Sea cycle trail. A highlight of the trail is to cycle across the Bridge to Nowhere.

Places to stay

Whakahoro Hut at the northern end of the Kaiwhakauku Valley is the only hut in the locality.

Although no there are no other huts in these valleys, there is an abundance of ideal campsites on open grassy flats and small side streams provide ample water.

Where practical and to minimise impacts we recommend camping at sites where DOC has provided toilets.

Plan and prepare

This area only has one hut so you need to be equipped for camping and weather changes.

If you are accessing or exiting walks from the southern end, you will need to make arrangements with one of the jet boat operators for transport.

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.

Location map

Location map of the Mangapurua and Kaiwhakauka Valleys.

Related links

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Follow the Outdoor Safety Code:
1. Plan your trip
2. Tell someone
3. Be aware of the weather
4. Know your limits
5. Take sufficient supplies

Alerts for Taranaki places


Whanganui Office
Phone:      +64 6 349 2100
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