Today-53km from Taumaranui to Maharanui
Woohoo! Back to the trail. After a lovely 5 days off trail in Auckland for Christmas, it was time to get on the river.
I had been looking forward to the Whanganui River Journey for a long time, and we had decided to paddle the whole thing starting from Taumaranui rather than just the Te Araroa bit from Whakahoro onwards.
Dad and I drove down from Auckland and we stayed at the canoe hire the night before, where I met with Marte and Jasper who I hadn’t seen since Auckland.
We had organized to do the canoe trip together, and had lots of catching up to do!
It was a sweet spot next to the river and we all enjoyed relaxing before our first day on the river.
At 7am we were getting our coffees and listening to the safety briefing on how not to sink our canoes/kayak or break them in half. The safety briefing was very good, with a video and all, demonstrating at least ten ways we could end up soaked.
After some instruction of how to tie up our precious cargo of snacks for 7 days, we were off!
Marte and Jasper had their canoe sorted, I had a spiffy kayak, and we were also with Katie and Carson, two Canadians from Calgary who we last saw in Kerikeri.
We negotiated the first few Rapids, a few hairy moments including some rock dodging, and arrived at a lavender farm and went to check it out.
Back on the river there were dozens more Rapids to paddle through and we enjoyed the beautiful scenery.
Jasper and Marte also introduced me to a game called black stories that kept me well entertained.
A scenic spot was found for lunch and we went for a swim. Super stoked at the nice weather.
The kiwi banana is my transport for this section, and so far I’m loving kayaking. The rapids are a fun challenge , and its sweet to change it up from using the legs for a few days.
Just when we thought we were getting the hang of it, I saw Marte and Jasper in their canoe tip sideways and fall out. Crap! I quickly paddled towards them to help retrieve paddles etc and forgot to read the rapid myself. Bash – dodged a rock but then found the banana topping after another rock came out of nowhere and then I also went for a swim. Hat and sunnies still on I grabbed my jandal off my foot and grabbed my kayak with the other hand , riding the rapid until it was easier to swim.Damn, I saw my other jandal merrily bobbing along in front of me but couldn’t grab it, oh well, I thought, there goes that.
What we didn’t realise is that there was a campground about 300m downstream of our tip out and two guys nearby came to see if we needed a hand as we floated by.
After making sure we were all okay we jumped back in the boats and continued the last few hours.
Jet boats also use the river so everytime you hear one, we paddle to the side and wait for it, then turn canoes and kayaks into the wake and ride the waves.
As we were doing this, I saw Marte scoop something up out of the water and thought YES and sure enough, good old jandal made it through and was reunited with his buddy. For the next 5 days no jandals went untied in boats .
We arrived at camp and set up. It took a while to unload and carry everything to start with, as all the barrels are tied down and also pretty heavy with all the luxurious food!
The Whanganui Journey is one of NZs Great Walks. The majority of people do the shorter trip from Whakahoro to Pipiriki, so the first day from Taumaranui we didn’t see many other people. The campsite is beautiful,right on the river.