14degrees off the beaten track
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November 1st, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,highlights,New Zealand

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I was up early this morning, making porrige in the Lodge’s self-catering kitchen. Mandy and I were chatting, when…

“Would you like to borrow a canoe?” Mandy asked with a tone of motherly concern.

There was not much arm-twisting required to get me to accept. When Joe heard of the plan however, “What? You can’t pull out now!” he said with a grin. “You have to finish the mission as you planned!” he jested. Or perhaps he was serious. Perhaps I was just wimping out. Perhaps I should just stick to the mighty rubber KonTiki.

“What will the foreign tourists think that saw you yesterday? They’ll think you couldn’t handle it,” he continued in his mocking tone.

“Either that or they will think I am smart,” I replied.

That seemed to please him enough to relent. “Meet me down at the water in a few minutes,” he said.

Mandy, upon hearing of my lack of food, piled me up with enough to last a week, and sent me on my way.

At the river, there was a two person Canadian canoe waiting for me. I donated the rubber KonTiki to the Lodge, and transfered the bike and gear to the canoe.

I gave up on the raft and switched to a canoe (kindly lent to me by Ramanui Lodge, Whanganui National Park, New Zealand)

I couldn’t help but think that I was going from rags to riches. Low on food and on a crappy slow rubber tube raft to loads of food and a decent water craft (complete with lifejacket). Joe and Mandy, you guys are legends. Thank you so much.

I gave up on the raft and switched to a canoe (kindly lent to me by Ramanui Lodge, Whanganui National Park, New Zealand)

On the canoe, I was free to enjoy the spectacular gorge scenery on the Whanganui River. Gliding smoothly and effortlessly along with the current, with pulse-raising rapids every now and then, the ride was awesome. What would have taken at least two days on the raft took 4 hours in the canoe.

Canoeing down the Whanganui River, Whanganui National Park, New Zealand

Joe was scheduled to be at Pipiriki at 2pm that afternoon to pick up some guests for the lodge in the jet boat. I met him there, where the canoe was transfered to the jetboat, and I was on my own with the bike again. Stoked. On firm ground again. Thanks again to Joe and Mandy at The Bridge To Nowhere for all their awesome help!

The road from Pipiriki to Wanganui is mostly gravel, and winds along beside the Whanganui River all the way. For the rest of the afternoon I cycled, enjoying moving faster than only just faster than walking pace.

Jerusalem was a fascinating stop. An historical convent with nuns still living there, with a rich Maori heritage. The photo below is of a carving at the front of the church. A ‘Maori Jesus’. A refreshing depiction indeed.

A Maori Jesus at the convent at Jerusalem, Whanganui National Park, New Zealand

The church itself is pretty, with Maori motifs all around.

Maori Catholic Church at the convent in Jerusalem, Whanganui River, New Zealand

I pushed on past the convent and ended up sleeping under the veranda of a closed campground near the river.

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    Permanent Link     Comments (3)

Comment by Stephanie C — November 4, 2008 @ 2:59 pm | post a comment

I've just remembered that Mike told you about those crazy guys who tramped with/mountain biked inflatable rafts across Stewart Island and Lochnagar. I think my dad would have me believe he rafted down the Wanganui river as a kid, I'll have to ask him the details.

Comment by Mike C — November 5, 2008 @ 1:46 am | post a comment

Have you seen the NZ film "River Queen"?

Comment by malcolm — November 5, 2008 @ 10:29 am | post a comment

i am stoked you went to jerusalem. i've always wanted to go there. James K Baxter spent a bunch of time there. look him up.


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