Nineteen of us arrived at Taumaranui after a long drive (thanks to David’s Mum for hosting fish & chips enroute!) and set about packing our gear into 40l plastic barrels. These were in turn carefully labeled with what turned out to be a whiteboard marker – duh!
Four kayaks, one double kayak and six two-person canoes (which were loaded with the barrels full of our gear) set off with eleven youth and eight (variously) skilled adults. For two especially selected canoe crews, a full immersion experience was awaiting! Harry – accept some responsibility – it’s not always entirely Dad’s fault!?
We passed by numerous feral goats, deep gorges and sheer papa cliffs. Ponga (tree ferns) were plentiful.
It was with some relief we made it to the hut before dusk. A real bonus was seeing Pekapeka (rare long tailed native bats) at dusk (and dawn) from the hut’s large deck. For those brave enough to walk to the long drop without their torches on, there were glowworms to be seen.
Inside the very toasty hut, freshly popped popcorn was followed by tasty dehy food, magically prepared by Joss and Sylvie. Yes, the youth had a pretty easy trip on the food front!?
The next morning I/we promptly tipped out (again!?). On reflection falling out was actually quite a humbling and salutary experience. It was the teamwork of the group working together which got us out of the tiring current and back in our canoe. A stronger bond was formed between group members (and we changed our technique) which did the trick for the rest of the trip – thankfully!
A moody and primal mist accompanied by light rain descended on us before we headed off on foot to visit the ‘abandoned’ 1930’s Bridge to Nowhere. Back on the river we soon came upon a dead bloated floating goat (which was a highlight for some youth?) and a change from seeing Mallard Ducks, Black Shags, Greylag Geese and occasional Whio Whio.
Arriving at Tieke Kainga Marae, a Powhiri (welcome) added a valuable cultural dimension to the trip. Later in the evening, Nick, our only Cub, celebrated his birthday, blowing out 8 candles on a slightly tumbled chocolate cake. Daniel and Mathieu’s Mum, Sylvie also celebrated her special day!
Torrential rain overnight flooded the beach we had landed on the previous afternoon with what resembled chocolate milk. The numerous waterfalls cascading into the river had a renewed vigour and on a particularly gnarly rapid, David joined me in the exclusive double ‘out-of-canoe experience’ club.
Ironically, higher water levels meant the final (and supposedly worst) rapid was easily navigated. Nick and Joss were so relieved!
Special thanks parent helpers Joss, Sylvie and Mark!
YIS, John (aka ZigZag)