Hello from Whanganui! We left Taumarunui last Saturday and have come 322K, or 207 miles, to kilometer 1370 on the trail. It has been a long time without service, so I apologize for the information and picture overload. We’ve had a VERY interesting 9 days on the trail. This is definitely our favorite section so far.
The only part of the crossing I disliked, besides the occasional smell of rotten eggs from the sulfur, was the up and over Red Crater. It was a major skree field and I’d take NZ mud over loose rocks any day!
We have been thinking about the river portion for awhile and gathering ideas on what other TA hikers were doing. Because I am both the planner and worry wart in this family, I was stressing big time about the trip. The official route would be to canoe from The Bridge to Nowhere to the city of Whanganui. However, virtually no TA hikers are taking that route because the canoe companies can’t easily transport the canoe to you and can’t justify the price (ironically, there is no road access at the Bridge to Nowhere. Actually, that is not ironic, since it is called The Bridge to Nowhere. But I digress.) Another option was to hire a jet boat, but again, the companies didn’t want to go all the way to Wanganui and quoted very high prices to discourage this option.
Our 3-day itinerary was perfect for us. It was a nice to trade in our backpacks and trekking poles for canoes and paddles for a bit. The river was mostly flat with some current, but my arms/shoulders certainly got a workout! There were a few rapids along the river to keep things exciting. There were all levels of experience on the river, which was sometimes funny to watch. I am happy to report that J and I did not flip our canoe once. Pretty much everyone else flipped at least once. We had a lot of people comment how “calm, cool and collected” we looked going through the rapids. This is all to J’s credit; I just followed his commands.
We only have another 320 kilometers left on the North Island and will probably be in Wellington in another 10 days or so!