Monday, November 19, 2007

No more long walks on the beach

As Alice alluded to in her last post, it was a touch windy on the final two days of canoeing. Apparently two houses had their roofs blown off in Wanganui. I'm not a wind guy by trade but that's windy.

Can't say that I'm joyed to leave the sand. This section was quite nice. It started off in a pumpkin. Literally. There is this park in Wanganui called Kowhai Park which is full of giant concrete fairytale structures. We actually had an interview with the Wanganui Chronicle inside it.

We left Wanganui for the beach. The beach walking differed from our really, really long walk on 90 mile beach because it had a few more things along the way for visual stimulation. Yeah it had it's fair share of dunes and waves but also had many people along the way to stop and talk to. I learned about how fishermen use these things called Contiki's to fish for sharks from the beach. They're kind of like mini submarines that take your line out 1-2 kilometres into the sea so you don't have to cast from the shore. Also learned about whitebait and how the locals call it white gold because there's never enough caught to fill the demand.

We enjoyed a few really nice days strung together. Hardly any clouds, just sun. Not even any wind which was nice.

There was only one difficult part, the river crossings. When Alice and I planned the route we had to go on information that wasn't so up to date. The rivers regularly flood which means they change from season to season. There were three large uncrossable rivers, so big that we would need a boat to get across, or did we?

We knew they were coming up so along the way we would ask the fishermen on the beach if they had any local knowledge. Wow, did we get some differing answers. Take the Whangaehu, where it meets the sea its 90m wide at high tide. One guy said "Yeah, the Whangaehu, I know it. I drove my 4WD over it no problem." Another said "Oh no way, it'll be over your head. You'll be swept to sea. One of the strongest currents in the world, it'll take you to Brazil." How do you decide with those two answers? You don't, ask more. We were trying to get a consensus either way, not possible. I don't think there were two answers that were the same, or even similar. To make a long story short, we took a look, decided it was too wide, deep and fast moving to cross. We ended up detouring around, was an extra 25km and an extra day but worth it. We were told the next day that the river was extremely acidic due to the lahar runoff from Mt Ruapehu, "It sustains no life". Maybe that explains all the dead cows we came across on it's banks. Huh.

Unfortunately there was no easy way round that one. The next two large rivers were much easier thanks to the help of two boats. Walked up to the Rangitikei river bank, saw a boat, waved frantically, and got a ride from the 'Brown's Bunch'. At the edge of the Manawatu we waved at a few boats and jet skis over the course of an hour or so with no luck. Finally got the attention of a passing boat and jet ski. The guys from the Manawatu Coast Guard came over and gave us a lift across. Thanks so much to both boats for the lift, you have no idea how much it helped us out.

Fitting end to the beach: a bonfire, nice sunset and now we're off to the Tararua Range. See you in Wellington.


Dennis by Whangaehu Highway Bridge crossing
Brown's Bunch
Ultra light plane over the beach near the Rangitikei River
Manawatu Coast Guard
Bonfire on beach at sunset