Whanganui Midweek

Whangamomo­na on Summer Programme

Plenty to do at popular event in summer calendar


Avisit to Whangamomo­na has been a popular event on the Whanganui Summer Programme for many years but in 2022 it comes with a bonus. Instead of going via Stratford, the trip on January 27 will go to Whangamomo­na via Taumarunui and the Tangarakau Gorge.

Programme trustee David Scoullar says he is excited about including the gorge which is rugged and bush-clad. There will be time to explore Whangamomo­na. He says it would be a long day but he was confident participan­ts would find it satisfying.

He is also pleased to welcome back to the programme a visit to Pukaha Wildlife Centre/Mt Bruce on January 29.

The national wildlife centre is a captive-breeding sanctuary for some of our most threatened birds.

Located in a pocket of ancient forest, Pukaha is a highly educationa­l experience and is also great fun. We should see kaka, hihi, kereru, takahe, korimako and others. Also tuatara and eels. On the way home visit the Middleton Model Railway — one of the largest in New Zealand.

Once the programme would run several buses to Kapiti Island, but the island has not been visited in recent years. Now it’s back on January 18.

David says the island had an important role in our history and forest and bird restoratio­n. It is a tranquil island bird sanctuary and one of New Zealand’s most accessible nature reserves, providing a unique visitor experience in a predator-free paradise. Explore the coastline and forest with bird visits. There is time (1.5 hours) to climb to the summit.

The opportunit­y to visit the Bridge to Nowhere on January 20 is proving popular, David says, but there are still spaces available.

On this trip participan­ts will bus to Pipiriki, followed by a 32km jet boat

ride and a 3km bush walk.

Trip leader Paul Mahoney says the Bridge to Nowhere was a poignant monument to 71 returned soldiers who farmed here after WWI. The Government later withdrew its support and demanded they leave.

They were, in effect, “dishonoura­bly discharged” with little to show for their efforts, he says, and their houses and farm buildings were burned down to prevent their return.

Two ever-present trips on the programme at the Kauarapaoa Valley on January 8 and Waitotara Valley on January 10. For the Kauarapaoa, the

bus will loop via Kai Iwi and up past Bushy Park, along the top of the watershed and return down the valley, viewing some of our impressive back country en route. Sid Soulsby of Wairangi Station will share his stories of living in the valley.

In the Waitotara Valley, stops include the Ngamatapou­ri Hall, Mangapapa Station woolshed on Makakaho Rd, St Hilda in the Wood Church and the Larsen farm at the top of the valley. The trip ends at the Waitotara pub and store.

Nature will be to the fore at Bushy Park Tarapuruhi on January 14 for

night spotting. Discover and enjoy this wonderful local sanctuary with mature forest, invertebra­tes, birds and wetland with a barbecue provided.

Those who enjoy visiting old houses should mark their calendar on January 28 for a visit to Rangitikei heritage houses with historian John Vickers. Rangitikei features some stunning heritage houses dating from the early days of large farms.

The houses are Pukemarama, Greenaway and Woodleigh. We will be shown through the house interiors with historical background­s provided by John and the current owners.

Local historian Kyle Dalton is noted for his walking tours and on January 9 he will be at the Heads Road Cemetery, New Zealand’s oldest “original” cemetery. Learn about the history behind one of the country’s most significan­t historic places.

And on January 19, more history will be on display on a guided tour of the Whanganui Collegiate School museum and historic buildings. First opened in Victoria Ave in 1854, WCS is New Zealand’s third-oldest school and the city’s oldest business. Its 168 years of history are displayed and documented in the school’s museum.

The road to Springvale on January 21 provides a visit to the dramatic high country sheep station region of the central North Island. Travel on the remote Taihape to Napier road, enjoy a late morning tea with some Moawhango locals at their former general store, now a club. Lunch at the graceful historic Springvale wooden suspension bridge, then go on to meet the manager of Erewhon, the largest sheep station in the North Island, in the grounds of the homestead.

The riverboat Wairua joins the programme with a day trip to Hipango Park on January 30. This trip remains popular because of the charm of the river journey and ambience of this bush-surrounded park.

Covid has impacted on the summer programme with two trips cancelled. David Scoullar says KiwiRail had pulled the plug on the Raurimu spiral train trip and Quaker Acres had withdrawn from the programme. He said the trust hoped all the other events would take place but bookings on some were very low and if they were uneconomic the organisers might have to cancel them.

“It would be a shame if this happened, particular­ly as so many other local events won’t take place. Our programme does offer a bit of normality and chance to get out into the region but we can’t afford to run a 53-seat bus with only a handful of people,” says David.

Vaccine passes are required to join summer programme trips. Book at the Whanganui i-SITE or online.

 ?? Photo / Supplied ?? The lonely Morgan grave site in the Tangarakau Gorge will be visited on the trip to Whangamomo­na.
Photo / Supplied The lonely Morgan grave site in the Tangarakau Gorge will be visited on the trip to Whangamomo­na.

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