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Riverboat embarks on Whanganui voyage

Published: 6:37PM Friday June 18, 2010 Source: ONE News

Dozens of passengers embarked on a historic adventure along the Whanganui River today.

For the first time in 82 years, a riverboat is attempting to travel from Wanganui to Taumarunui.

The Adventurer 2 is embarking on the 230 kilometre voyage and is expected to take four days, with 239 rapids to battle along the way.

Skipper Robert Baldwin says he is not even sure if they will get to their destination.

"But we've got pretty positive thoughts and we're going to give it a real good crack," he says.

Local Maori were initially against the tourism venture but are now keen to see it take off.

Turua Hawira of Raetihi iwi says he is looking forward to helping out Baldwin a bit more "if he can get us a bit of a job".

Mista Ngarongo of the Taumaranui iwi has a similar opinion.

"(It's) work, (will) get people off the dole and I wouldn't mind doing this myself, so tena kotu," Ngarongo says.

The Adventurer 2 is a new boat that was copied from one of the original riverboats which plied the Whanganui River early last century.

It was launched this year with the goal of again reaching Taumarunui.

"We've done a lot of work with the iwi trying to hopefully work with everyone on the river and hopefully it's going to open the whole river up to tourism," says Baldwin.

The skipper is hoping the boat will be able to battle most of the rapids but whatever happens a warm welcome is expected if they make it to Taumarunui.