Around a corner in the Whanganui River Rd in Jerusalem, the picture-perfect, red-and-mustard spire of St Joseph’s Church stands tall on a spur of land above a deep river bend. A French Catholic mission led by Suzanne Aubert established the Daughters of the Sisters of Compassion here in 1892. Slip off your shoes and explore the (slightly creepy) convent and Madeline-like dorms.
The sisters take in bedraggled travellers, offering 20 dorm-style beds (adults $20, children $5, linen $10 extra) and a simple kitchen – book ahead for the privilege. Moutoa Island, site of a historic 1864 battle, is just downriver.