As the Tetaruke River joins the Wanganui, the Wanganui has flowed some 105 km from its source on the Tongariro already. It’s here we swung left to head upstream to beach our canoes at Whakahoro and trek 500 odd metres up to the Blue Duck Café.
Black and white nostalgia hung from the walls as a reminder of life on the Wanganui from yesteryear. Yellow scrambled egg atop brownish bacon atop toasted bread stuck to the fork end was caressed into the gobs to savour the taste of a cooked breakfast. It was the second one of the day having consumed one before we set paddle only two hours earlier.
Whakahoro is also the place that the three-day adventurists join the river traffic. However, as we exited the Tetaruke River back onto the Wanganui, we passed other paddlers who shared the Maharanui campsite from the night before. A fellow bunch of Kiwi’s that has made the evening entertainment very enjoyable with banter and mud-slinging humour.
One of their canoes was a little behind and as we had gone a couple of hundred metres downstream as they reached the mouth of the Tetaruke, I waved my paddle in jest and unbeknown to me, they thought I was from their group and so keep coming in our direction. Meanwhile, the rest of their group would have beached and be making their way up to the café!
Jet boats ferried tourists up and down the river having replaced the craft that used to transport all and sundry. Sometimes they slowed down for us; sometimes not. Either instance resulted in us having to turn the canoe 90 degrees to the motor wake so as to hit the waves head on versus sideways. Sideways could result in capsize.
When the waves abated and the shallow rapids fell deeper into the abyss, we rested the paddles on the sides of the canoe to allow the current and whirlpools and eddies to float us down the sheer rugged cliff gorges. This part of the woven sacred Te Taura Whiri a Hinengākau – the plaited rope of Hinengākau was just stunning. It was the shades of green richness that captivated the mind and heart with its scenic wilderness beauty.
Tying up at the John Coull hut, we met Margaret and Bev who were DOC Hut Wardens. They volunteer and reside on-site for a week, sometimes two to do maintenance and hut pass checks. What a fantastic way to enjoy your own back yard that appealed to our sense of thinking. Hmmmm.
The site became more congested as new paddlers arrived to bed down for the night. So too did the other group we have shared two previous campsites with and included the ones waved on in jest. All in good taste naturally.
As was the ale shared from the beer barrel.