The Manawatu Gorge is a natural thoroughfare between east and west coasts of the North Island. The first white man is said to have paddled through the gorge in 1841. Maori regularly used it. By 1871 a rough track had been hacked out of the bush for travellers and shortly after it could take horse drawn traffic. There have been many accidents in the gorge with many a horse and cart going over the side.