Friends and Adventures 39:17.3S, 175:3E Part One, Whanganui Journey
Our second camper trip was planned to coincide with a visit to New Zealand by our friends Liz and Owen and we were also able to visit brother in law David’s nephew and family in Aukland. (I tried to find a better description for the relationship but google didn’t have one). We had a very pleasant stopover with Simon, Annie, Pip, Mary and Keith before driving on to Coromandel to meet Liz and Owen staying on a fairly remote campsite for two nights and walking to a waterfall and to mines with glow worms. The camp was notable for its inquisitive and cheeky chickens which would steal food from your table or hand given half a chance.
Simon, Pip, Keith, Mary, Annie.
Liz and Owen
Every other walk in New Zealand is to Waterfalls
Moving on to Waikite Valley south of Roturua we stayed on a campsite where your camp fee included entry to the hot pools, up to 42 degrees.
This is where we said goodbye to Liz and Owen and went our different ways, ours down to the Whanganui river for a three day canoe camping expedition. The Whanganui Journey is one of the 9 Great Walks in New Zealand – the only one that you don’t actually walk.
Loaded up ready to go
We canoed 90 kilometres of grade 1-2 rapids through remote bush country with no road access. Launching at Whakahoro there are over 90 rapids before leaving the river at Pipiriki. They were mostly just a bit bouncy but occasionally there were awkward currents, tricky rocks and standing waves that jumped into the open canoe making it very unstable. Give me a kayak anyday! As well as getting wet from the river it also rained everyday so we were drenched without capsizing.
The campsites and huts on the way down are run by DOC (Department of Conservation) and have cooking shelters, toilets and very helpful friendly wardens. We had been told you could hear Kiwi at the campsites, and Sarah thinks she heard one at our first overnight stop. The second site at Tieke is run by a Maori couple who live there with their young son and is at a Marae, a Maori sacred or communal place. Before being allowed into the Marae we had to be ceremonially welcomed, a Powhiri. This involved an invitation to enter the area from the wife, ladies entering first to show that we came peacefully, followed by the men. Then there are speeches from both hosts and visitors and the giving of gifts by the visitors, the visiting ladies sing a song and the hosts sing a welcome. The final part of the ceremony is the Hongi the formal Moari greeting, a touching of foreheads and noses. Luckily there was a Moari man canoeing the river with his son and daughter so he was able to do a correctly formatted speech from the visitors side.
The Marae at Tieke
end of the journey.