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In April 2008, over the Anzac Bank Holiday weekend, we went up to the Tongariro National Park, stayed overnight in a hut and were then taken to the Whanganui River at Whakahoro, were given a Canadian Canoe and six empty barrels and were sent on our way to paddle the 90 kilometres to Pipiriki over the course of the next 3 days. Along the way, we'd be completely away from "Civilisation" and mod cons. Our only company would be other people kayaking the river and the sound of bird song, rapids and wind through the trees. How very pleasant.

The pictures shown below are displayed in chronological order from the start of the adventure until arrival in Pipiriki. The route that we took started on day one with the 35 kilometre paddle from Whakahoro to the John Coull Hut. Day two lasted another 35 kilometres and ended at the Tieke marae, just after the famous "Bridge to Nowhere". The third day, to Pipiriki was a shorted 20 kilometre leg, but offered much more dangerous rapids along the course.

Anyway, on to the photos!

Top Left: An old Morris sitting in the garage at the cabin we stayed in prior to the start of the canoeing. A bit of a talking point I would think.
Top Right: At the entry point to the Whanganui River at Whakahoro. Entry was actually made from a side stream called the Retaruke River before turning into the main stream of the Whanganui.
Right: Jenny! Just after the start of the paddling. It was quite hard to control the canoe to start off with. It took a while to get a hang of the steering, but once we'd be doing it for a while we got the hang of things!
Bottom Left: The bank of the river. Not much more than that to this picture.
Bottom Right: A look back up the river from our first stop en route. A couple of other canoeists can be seen.
Top Left: On arrival at the finish of the first day's canoeing at John Coull Hut. We arrived just as it was starting to get dark and had to frantically erect our tent before darkness set it. We found a nice little secluded spot to put our tent up; nestled between the trees with a fabulous view of the river.
Top Right: Does exactly as it says on the tin (plate sign). Yes, it was the John Coull Hut.
Left: A fantail (Piwakawaka). A very popular bird in New Zealand. These will follow you around as you walk through the bush, hoping to catch any insects that your footsteps stir up.
Bottom Left: A slightly disturbing view from the tent at John Coull Hut. Yes, the camera's been rotated around - the shoes aren't floating around outside the tent. And the face is, of course, Andy's.
Bottom Right: Setting off the next morning on the way to the Tieke hut. A couple of other canoeists up ahead.
Top Left: A dripping rock formation on the way to the Tieke Kainga marae. Two-thirds of the way to Tieke, you can stop of at the Mangapurua Landing and then walk up the Mangapurua Track towards the World Famous Bridge to Nowhere. This bridge was built in the 1920s to service a small settlement of soldiers returning from World War One. The settlement was later abandoned, leaving an impressive concrete bridge seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
Top Right: By the time we got to the Mangapurua Landing, the slip for docking kayaks was full, so we decided to paddle part way up the Mangapurua Stream to see how far we could get up stream to the Bridge. Not very far was the answer, so we parked up on a mud bank and scrambled up a very muddy bank to gain access to the Mangapurua Track to enable us to access the bridge.
Right: Joining the Mangapurua Track at the top of the mud scramble.
Bottom Left: A wire swingbridge on the way to the more famous Bridge.
Bottom Right: Our first sight of the bridge. Yes, it is just a normal concrete bridge, but there's not much to be seen either side of it. Some wooden posts engraved with the settlers' names, and some abandoned farm machinery are the only signs that this area was once a small farming community.
Top Left: From the far side of the Bridge from Mangapurua Landing, as you would have approached the Soldiers' Settlement from "Civilisation" more than 50 years ago.
Top Right: Near to the Bridge, there's a short walk up to a viewing platform where you can look down on the Bridge. This picture's taken from there.
Left: Arrival at the Tieke Kainga marae, and setting up of the tent. We'd arrived a little earlier at Tieke than we had at John Coull and there was a lot more camping space available, and a bit more light to set up by.
Bottom Left: Andy sitting inside the fully erected tent. It was pretty tiring work, paddling for over 30 kilometres two days in a row, so a good sit down and relax at the end of the day was a real necessity!
Bottom Right: The Tieke Marae itself. If members of Te Whanau o Tieke; the local tangata whenua are in residence, then visitors are given a traditional powhiri (or welcome) onto the Marae. Sadly, on our visit none of the local Whanau were in residence.
Top Left: On the final day of the trip, which was supposed to be a much more relaxed day, but offered the most exciting rapids. This picture is taken from the Ngaporo Campsite, about halfway between Tieke and our final destination of Pipiriki. The Ngaporo Campsite is located just after a pretty tough rapid that saw some other people overturn their canoes. You come out of the rapid and then have to do a quick right hand turn to beach up at Ngaporo. This picture is pointing upstream towards Pipiriki.
Top Right: The opposite bank of the river from the Ngaporo Campsite, showing some interesting rock formations.
Right: Looking back upstream towardss the Ngaporo rapid (rapid #190, incidentally). The canoe has just exited the long tail of the rapid. You should just be able to see the last bubbles of the rapid towards the left of the picture.
Bottom Left: The Puraroto Caves, not far after Ngaporo. Just after this was the rapid "Autapu" which turned out to be the accident hotspot on the River. Jenny and I just about managed to safely navigate the rapid, to find a couple of canoes being bailed out after tipping, and the next 2 canoes capsized as well.
IsoSTRUCTURAL And that was pretty much it. After the Autapu Rapid, a few more longer, but not quite as dangerous rapids followed before arriving at the Pipiriki Boat Ramp. We were actually the 2nd canoe to arrive back at Pipiriki, which meant that we had a pretty long wait for the company to bring us our car from Whakahoro. Still, we'd made it back in one piece - tired, slightly damp and pretty dirty! We still had a few hours of driving ahead of us, firstly along the winding and unsealed road which followed the Whanganui River all the way back down to the City of Wanganui. A stop in Palmerston North for dinner, followed by a little bit more driving saw us home for a good night's sleep.