The Mangapurua Valley is steeped in history, being one of the first areas offered to returning WWI soldiers in 1917 for farming. At its peak there were 46 farms in twin valleys, established through the back-breaking work of families who cleared and worked the land. For a while, despite the arduous conditions and constant physical labour; strong communities formed and thrived. The Bridge to Nowhere was completed in 1936, however by then many of the settlers had already abandoned their land. Following a storm six years later the treacherous road was doomed and the valley was soon deserted.
Today the native forest is reclaiming this ‘valley of abandoned dreams’ but there are still signs of the original settlements which offer visitors a fascinating glimpse into postwar life.
As well as riders and walkers tackling the Mangapurua Track, it attracts thousands of people who visit on guided tours from Pīpīriki or as part of the Whanganui River journey, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks (that’s actually a canoeing adventure).