The Whanganui River has always been an important communication route to the central North Island, both for Māori and for European settlers. For many years it was the principal route to the interior. The 290-km river rises on the north-west flank of Mt Tongariro and reaches the Tasman Sea at Whanganui, one of New Zealand's oldest cities, founded in 1840. According to Māori tradition, the river was first explored by Tamatea, one of the leaders of the original migration to Aotearoa, who travelled up the river and on to Lake Taupo. Much Māori and Pākehā history is associated with this iconic river. Poet James K. Baxter established a commune at Jerusalem in 1969. The river's most spectacular scenery is in its middle reaches, where it passes through a series of narrow gorges amidst one of the North Island's largest areas of unmodified lowland forest. Pipiriki was an important centre during the riverboat era from the mid-1890s to the 1920s, and remains a gateway to the wilderness reaches of the river and the heritage site of the Bridge to Nowhere! This afternoon session aims to highlight the natural beauty, cultural significance, and rich heritage of this major New Zealand river and city.