Saturday, March 16, 2013

this and that, oh and a wee canoe trip - wanna come along?

First off I just want to say thanks to all those who have left me comments over the last few weeks. I love reading them and hearing what you're up to or what you think of things. I seem to have also received loads of spam comments of late, not sure if it's happening in general all round the blog world or I've been singled out for some extra attention? So if it gets any worse I will have to make the comments a little more challenging, sorry.

Ready to head off
It's been a pretty hectic few weeks and some how I can't see it slowing down much! Last weekend Mr M&M and I did a canoe trip down the Whanganui River. I have never done it before, despite living in Whanganui for 16 years. Both Mr M&M and our youngest daughter have done it many times and know the water way and rapids well and are skilled paddlers.

Photo bombed!

There were 7 of us doing the trip and I thought I'd share a few pics with you. The trip was to be 3 nights camping along the river with 4 days of paddling. Getting in at Whakahoro and getting out at Pipiriki.

Day one on the river
Every day was scorchingly hot. No breeze, just hot searing sun. We stopped often to swim and to make cups of tea. We had a 10km paddle to do. Some of the gorges we paddled through were amazing. Tranquil and quiet with only the sound of wildlife or water to be heard. There were a lot of wild goats grazing in the upper part of the river.

The M&M family
Of course I didn't take many photos as my camera was stored safely and when I did get it out I didn't have my glasses so I couldn't tell what I was taking a photo of anyway!! LOL But I had to catch a pic on the power house in the back of my canoe! (My hero).

Mangapapa campground for the first night
At night we heard kiwi calling and moreporks. And there were plenty of possums in the trees around us and at some campgrounds we noticed little foot prints in the sand which probably belonged to rats. The evenings were warm, but the ground was hard! My sleeping mat just didn't replace my bed at all.

Early morning vistas
Every morning we waited until the mist had risen and the sun broke through. We took our time getting on the river and we ambled down the river stopping frequently to swim and stretch.

Day 2 on the river
You can see our canoe was packed with our gear. Our sleeping bags and tent gear was in the big barrel and our clothes were in the small barrels. Our food was packed into the chilly bin.Although the river levels were the lowest they've ever been, there was enough water in the rapids to swamp our boat if we weren't careful.

2nd night at Mangawhaititi
Our campground on the 2nd night was gorgeous in a grove of native bush. However, it was the most difficult to get to. We had to haul the barrels up steps built on the side of the cliff face. We paddled 30 kms during the day and it would be fair to say we were all ready to crawl into our sleeping bags and sleep!

Track into the Bridge to Nowhere
On the 3rd day of paddling we stopped so that some of us could walk into the Bridge to Nowhere. This bridge was built over the Mangapurua Stream but there are no roads to or from it. It's really popular with the tourists and the jet boat companies bring them up several times a day.

Standing on the Bridge to Nowhere

It took us about 30 mins to walk to it. I found the bridge a sad reminder of the people who had once lived in the area. In 1917 soldiers returning from the First World War were given land in this valley to farm. In 1935 the government of the day decided to build the bridge and make roads to open the area up providing a route for the settlers of the area to reach the river and other towns. But the area proved to be so remote and unfriendly that the government never built any roads.
About 30 families took up the offer of free land and went about clearing the bush, building homes, farming stock, building a school and trying to survive. But the conditions were tough, especially during the winter months. They were isolated and it was difficult for them to get out and for supplies to reach them.
By 1942 most families had walked off the land only 3 families remained and as a result the government decided to no longer provide support to these settlers and closed the settlement down.  Now all that remains is some signage with settlers names and the bridge. If you hunt carefully you may find an old brick chimney, or an exoctic tree amongst the natives.
I think it's sad to think of how hard life here in the valley would have been and what a raw deal these hard working families got.

Bridge to Nowhere amongst regenerating native bush
It would have been an amazing feat of engineering to build the bridge in the 1930s. We walked back to our canoes to meet the others and have some lunch and a swim. Today was a 25 km paddle.

Tieke Marae
Our last night on the river was spent at Tieke. The campground joined a marae (a maori meeting house). The campground was packed with tourists and suddenly it didn't feel like a wilderness trip any longer. I enjoyed looking at the caving and in the morning we watched to mist rise. To me the meeting house looked like it had the perfect place to be, amongst all the native bush and ferns. I wondered how many of the tourists appreciated the beauty of the place, or if it was just another place to sleep en route to the 'get out point'?

The view from Ngaporo campground
Our last day on the river was another scorcher and called for more swims. This is the view from Ngaporo campground and one you find on all the postcards, we never stayed here, but it would have been very nice. Perhaps next time? We had 15kms ahead of us to paddle. From here down there were lots of jet boats on the river shuttling people to and from. We had to make sure we didn't get tipped out in their wake. I thought they were a little disrespectful to all those people using the river in canoes.

Pipiriki Landing
Then at 4pm we quietly arrived at Pipiriki, a place of much activity during the early years of the river. It was well known for it's huge guest house Pipiriki House, which burnt down many years ago, and for the house boats which moored between Pipiriki and Whakahoro. In the early 1900s it was very fashionable to take a trip on the Whanganui River and stay in a house boat or at Pipiriki House.
We were all exhausted and looking forward to cool showers and machine coffees! It was an amazing trip, no one came to grief, Mr M&M and I never fell out, and we had some great company along the way.

Well I've run out of time, and you're all probably exhausted too! lol
Gotta run, back soon,
Carole x


Pallas said...

What a beautiful trip. I haven't camped in years, and have been kayaking, but never canoeing. (The only time I was in a canoe was at Disneyland - I know that doesn't count.) Ha!

Irene said...

I loved your story and the pictures! This is so different of my surroundings here in Holland.. It woud be a dream to go there with you. Thank you for sharing!

Doreen G said...

I am sooo jealous Carole--I know-I know I am too old to do this but I am still jealous.
The countryside looks spectacular.

Jennifer said...

What a great trip! Been reading about the drought in the North Island, and you said the water levels were down.

Janelle said...

I love seeing all the pictures from your part of the world. It sounds like you had a amazing trip. Thanks for sharing.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Sounds like a wonderful adventure! I would love to be able to spend time in a canoe, but my knees object altogether too strenuously.

Suztats said...

Wow! I couldn't manage that much paddling in a few days! Good on you! I enjoyed the photos of your adventure.

Gabriela said...

What a beautiful trip!You made my day in snowy Ohio so much brighter!I felt like I was along for the trip!
It's nice to see you enjoy yourself after all the work you have been doing!

Lottie said...

What a wonderful adventure - it sounds like you all had a 'hoot' and those photos and memories you'll all treasure forever

Thank you so much for sharing with us

Julie said...

What a fantastic journey. It's completely out of my world and it was wonderful to read your story.

Jen xo said...

wow, carole how wonderful, what a marvellous trip and love your photos :)

Linda said...

Beautiful trip! You will always treasure the memory of this first trip of yours.... and it's ALWAYS good to have a power house in the back of your canoe!!!

Connie said...

What a beautiful adventure.
You all look so happy, too.
I love it. Enjoy every minute :)
Your blogging sister, Connie.
P.S. I feel honored to be tagging along. Thanks for sharing.

Nicky said...

This looks like the most wonderful trip Carole, you have some gorgeous pictures to remember it all. Another beautiful part of NZ paradise!

teri said...

Looks like fun!

I had to make my blog for registered comments only, because when it's open to everyone I got lots of spam, too.

Tatkis said...

You certainly had a great time!
Thanks for sharing photos and stories!


Jill said...

There was a time that maybe I could have done this..but boy I'm sooooo out of shape now. Are you sore?! What a beautiful trip this must have been. I sure would have been ready for coffee too!! (and my computer)

Raewyn said...

Awesome trip Carole! Have you read "Landings' by Jenny Pattrick? Now I have pictures to go with the story! Thank you!