Find out important safety information for the Whanganui Journey.

Your safety is your responsibility. To have a great time in the outdoors, know before you go the five simple rules of the Outdoor Safety Code to help you stay safe:

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

1. Plan your trip

Seek local knowledge, plan your route and the amount of time you expect it to take.

It's important to plan, prepare and equip yourself well. Have the right gear and skills required for the trip and always check the latest information about facilities you plan to use, and local track and weather conditions.

On the Whanganui Journey, be aware that:

  • Once on the river, emergency communication is available only at John Coull Hut and Tieke Kainga, and there is only road access to the river at Whakahoro and Pipiriki.
  • Cellphones do not work on the Whanganui Journey.

More information:

Check for alerts at the top of Whanganui Journey page, or contact:

Whanganui Office
Phone:   +64 6 349 2100
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   34-36 Taupo Quay
Whanganui 4500
Postal Address:   Private Bag 3016
Whanganui 4540

2. Tell someone

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.

3. Be aware of the weather

New Zealand's weather can be highly unpredictable - expect weather changes and be prepared for them.


Watch for symptoms: people may shiver, be clumsy, confused, haveslurred speech, and deny they have a problem.

Treatment: immediately make or find shelter; get the person intowarm, dry clothing, put them into a sleeping bag, give them warm,sweet drinks, monitor them and seek immediate medical help.

Heat exhaustion

This can be serious and is usually caused by physical activity in a hot environment and not drinking enough water.

Prevention: carry and drink water regularly.

Watch for symptoms: headaches, thirst, weakness, dizziness, nauseaor vomiting.

Treatment: move to a cool shaded area to rest, remove excessclothing and give water to drink.

On the Whanganui Journey, be aware that:

  • Heavy rain and flooding can occur at any time of year on the Whanganui River and the weather can change quickly. You will need to be prepared for rain, cold and windy conditions.
  • Don’t canoe the river when water levels are predicted to rise or it is in flood - you won't be charged for staying an extra night at a campsite or hut due to high river levels. If you capsize, you may not be able to get back in, or swim to the river’s edge.
  • Canoeing into the wind can be demanding – allow extra travelling time between stopovers in windy conditions.
  • Always pull your canoe up high on the bank and tie it to something secure. It may not be raining on the river, but rain elsewhere in the large catchment can cause the river to rise several metres overnight.
  • Wasps are a known hazard and are particularly common from January until May. Carry antihistamine if you are allergic to their stings

More information:

Check the Whanganui rural area weather forecast of the MetService website.

4. Know your limits

Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience.

On the Whanganui Journey, be aware that:

  • The trip should only be undertaken by people in good physical condition and fitness - once you're on the river below Whakahoro, there is no turning back.

5. Take sufficient supplies

You must be self sufficient: be sure you have enough food, clothing, equipment and emergency food for the worst-case scenario.

Take an appropriate means of communication such as a personal locator beacon. Personal locator beacons provide increased personal safety. You can rent them from various outlets, check details on the Rescue Co-ordination Centre NZ website

On the Whanganui Journey, be aware that:

  • Food and drinks are not available for purchase at huts and campsites.
  • There is no cellphone coverage on the Whanganui Journey.

More information:

For a comprehensive gear list, read New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association’s Guide to the Whanganui River.

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