Escape • Explore • Enjoy • Exist

While the bodies still can and we still have our marbles!

Tag: #conversations (page 2 of 9)

20/1/17 Paraparaumu to Raumati South: A Day of Greatness

The body eventually caved into the mind which caved into the soul and had Vicki drop us back off opposite the Waikanae train station for us to walk the bit we were supposed to do yesterday.  Braden, Jack and Logan joined our meander atop the Waikanae River banks in the direction of the sea.  Reserve preservation has been fantastic and to watch native birds sharing the fruits of summer had us stop and stare as they fed.  Kereru, Tui and Fantail.

Today’s sky evaporated the grey to become blue and at last, there was some warmth in the ball of yellow above.  We bid our goodbyes to Vicki, Jack and Logan as we hoisted the backpacks up onto the body frames.  Braden and Jess escorted us along the beach and out of their suburb.

Kapiti Island looked radiant on the horizon as we left our foot imprints on the beach sand.  Reaching the cusp between Raumati Beach and Raumati South, a text was sent to this time, people we knew.  It was another pre-arranged stop and, well over due.

Their figures appeared coming toward us in our direction.  The voices of greeting were heard well before we could press the flesh for kisses, hugs and handshakes.  It turned neighbours heads and stopped cars in the street.  Jonielle was on a tightish timeframe to complete the North Island walking and decided to carry on some more.  More commotional street noise as we bid her farewell.

Denise and Chris were a couple that we had first met at a campsite back in 2011.  It was at a place called ‘Ginger’ at the head waters of the Nile River in Uganda, East Africa.  From memory, we think we even watched an All Black test together the following morning before we parted company.  We hadn’t seen them since although, have kept in touch over the years.

What makes this couple special was that when we first met, they had just built a school for children in Kenya.  Their story of how they ended up there through their son’s project on tracing their family tree was one that you could make a movie out of.  Denise did publish a book telling the story.

“I Share My Heart With Africa” is a beautiful read and if you love biographies, you won’t be disappointed when you add it to your book shelf or Kindle Library, either from or Amazon.

They are the most amazing couple who since we have met, have built a second school in Kenya.  Gate crashing their barbque, we meet other friends of theirs whom welcomed us to share in an evening to learn more about these remarkable hosts.  It was so much fun.

And easy to top up on beers from the previous night’s hosting at that!

Today started with one set of great people and ended with another set of great people.

A day of greatness.

10/1/17 Jerusalem to Rivertime Lodge: Do You Believe In Ghosts?

The sound of chains rattling across the roof after mid-night startled us awake.

“What the hell was that?”

“You go investigate?”

“No, you go do it.”

No one moved from beneath the covers.

The only sound that could be heard was Nick in the corner.  Snoring.  He hadn’t budged at all.  Wears ear plugs too which is ironic for a snorer.

Even the thought of topping and tailing on the beds to comfort nerves didn’t happen.  No one was keen to get out of bed feeling safe in the thing should an apparition appear!

As heads sunk back onto pillows one by one to drift back off to sleep, repenting sins must have spun around people’s heads asking for forgiveness without muttering the words.

The sun rose and as we sat eating breakfast, we brainstormed what the noise could have been.  Then it happened again.  A truck towing a trailer and not slowing down went over some road construction beyond the gate.

What idiot driver speeds like a maniac to scare five; no four, TA walkers staying at a disused Convent in the middle of the night?

As the march to credit Mother Mary Aubert with Sainthood progresses to fruition, its attracting more visitor numbers.  We recommend the experience.  Overnighting too.


Seeing a sign for a coffee nailed to a tree had us beach, disembark and then walk up a road at Matahiwi.  The café was closed however, there under cover was a river boat called the ‘River Queen.’  There was a New Zealand movie called “River Queen” filmed on the waters of the Wanganui River.  We haven’t seen it but have the display posters.  On them were pictures of the same boat.  Well, it looked the same having the same name.

Wild goat shouldering the riverbanks had increased in numbers.  So too had wild peacocks.  Come to think of it, so too had sheep and cattle.  The flipside was that the number of rapids had dramatically reduced meaning less current.  Floating was nearly at a standstill resulting in more physical paddling to keep momentum.

With the wind in our favour, the consensus was to push forward a little further.  The last 20 kms into Wanganui is tidal with high tide at 10 am the next morning.  To get the outgoing tide became the focus.  With it, our time on the river was going to end a day earlier.

Anything to ease physical exertion whilst sitting on your bum has got to be healthy.


9/1/17 Ramanui to Jerusalem: New Zealand’s Mother Theresa

Most of life’s growth lessons are learnt when you get outside your comfort zone.  Whether by purpose or by accident.  When I (yes it was me) re-loaded and tied in the barrels this morning, I put the weight in the wrong place and unbeknown to us, unbalanced the canoe!

This was to become evident not long after.

The rapid we were approaching was gnarly and had scored two other couple capsizes.  We waited for others to rough water it to come out the other side without fuss.  When we entered, the first bump had me see the second bump directly in my line of vision. BClaire went underwater just about completely.  Words were gurgled.  When she popped back up hitting the second rapid bump, my line of site was now seeing her arse as the canoe went nearly vertical.  This was not going to end well as we waited for the oxygen masks to drop from above.

They didn’t!

And for whatever the reason, we didn’t capsize per say.   However, our canoe was submerged with water to the rim of the sides, inside the canoe.  We hula hooped the hips to maintain keeping the boat from completely going over and all hands were to the pump baling out the contents.  We passed the second couple who had capsized.  They had just made landfall.

The next lot of rapids just before Pipiriki was called the 50/50 ones.  Jesus had warned us about these at the safety briefing and I was confident we would make it through after the last episode.

We did.  And I never made the mistake again to re-load the boat in the manner I had.  Under the guise of BClaire.  Don’t know why.  Perhaps the external comfort zone growth lesson!

Pipiriki is where all the five and three dayers leave the Wanganui River.  We visited the village to dry out, eat lunch before we carried on.  Calmness had returned to the canoe as we tried to move on from the previous encounter.  From here, rapids became less frequent as did the jet boats.  More farmland fudged into the landscape features.

The steeple rising just above the treeline signalled our end destination, the Convent at Hiruharama.  When translated, Jerusalem.

It is a place that is so worth the effort to google and read about a New Zealand Pioneer – Mother Mary Aubert.  She would have to be our equivalent to “Mother Theresa” and her dedication to give her heart this part of Aotearoa.

We stayed in the Convent itself finding a dorm bed and spent the remainder of the day just reading all the history attached to the place.  Religion is a personal preference however, more lessons were taken from such a tranquil setting.

Jerusalem was one of the largest settlements on the Wanganui River.  It was known as a meeting place for kōrero (discussion).

“He pūkengawai, he nohoana tāngata, he nohoanga tāgata, he putanga kōrero.”

Translated – “Where waters gather, people settle, and where people settle, legends unfold.”

Jerusalem and its history is legendary.

8/1/17 John Coull Hut/Pukerua to Ramanui: Side Trip

We continued to follow the river as it meandered through bush-covered hills, stretching the legs at the Mangawaiiti Campsite.  DOC have done extremely well to provide areas to rest the head on the shoreline banks; this one was perched high above the river.  A shelter to cook during inclement weather; rain water is collected for patron usage; and the long drop loos with plastic toilet seat for bum comfort.  Remember to take fly spray so as to not only sweeten the smell of poos and wees; it’s also handy to knock out the beasties that are attracted to the exposed parts of skin around the lower mid-drift.

Another place we got to stretch the legs was when we arrived at the Mangapurua Landing.  This is where old riverboats used to tie up to let off passengers who lived or visited the Mangapurua Valley farm settlements.  We took a walk up to the Bridge to Nowhere – a poignant reminder of how returning World War 1 Soldiers were granted land to recognise their contribution to the cause.  They carved out farms from the harsh terrain only to have landslides break their resolve.  Many walked off the land; the remaining forced off as the riverboat frequency dried up.  The bridge was constructed during the times in preparation for a proposed road from the top end of the valley.

It never eventuated and hence today, a bridge to nowhere.

Today’s journey concluded some 29 kms further down the river at the Lodge campsite, Ramanui.  Directly across from us was Tīeke Kāinga campsite, one of the many old pā on the river and where more of the day’s paddlers ended up.  Them and us – with just a bit of water bridging us in-between.

At least everyone was somewhere they needed to be.

5/1/17 Taumarunui to Ōhinepane: Mother In-Laws – Best to Avoid Them But Hug Them If You Really Have Too!

The briefing room was crowded with others like us, adventure junkies there to embark on god knows what!  Some were doing only three days; some five; and we eight days.

The male owner Rod with long wirey hair and referred to by South American locals as “Jesus” because of his lookalike features presented the safety briefing with colourful adjectives.

“Be mindful of the rapid walls protruding from either side of the river embankment, aim for the water-flow ‘V’ pointing in the direction you are going; and not the other one pointing toward you.”

“Should you find your canoe hitting a hazard, adopt the behaviour like a tree greenie and hug the rock so as the canoe will turn out of the rapid under the force of the flow.”

“However, rapid hazards are like Mother in-laws.  Best to avoid them but hug them if you only really have to!”

There were instructions on steering and submersion and baling.  And then our barrel full of food and gear were escorted down to the water’s edge, loaded on so as weight distribution was balanced and then tied down so as in the case of a roll over, everything arrived at our end destination together and not beat us.

The recent deluge of rain raised the water level higher than normal.  Whether a good or bad thing, it didn’t matter.  With Claire at the front and me at the back, we were launched into the current.

The first rapid saw another canoe capsize and right itself.  The two male occupants manoeuvred their fully submerged waka to a stony beach where they began the process of baling water.  We couldn’t but help laugh at them because the pace at which it happened was like a slow-motion movie.  It was hilarious.  It also eased the nervous tension having seen how to recover from such an ordeal.

Just as well, Nick from our group was riding solo on a ride on canoe skiff and he tumbled as well.  Whites of his eyes terror evaporated to whites of his teeth laughing at himself.  Cripes, we hadn’t even gone a kilometre down the river!

Dare I add, no more than two or so rapids further down, we too were dunked out and into the flow!  Safety instructions go right out the window in the face of panic.  Why is that? After we emptied the boat of the liquid stuff, the elation of having gone through the experience gave us greater confidence for the potential future opportunities of capsizing.  Experience pays smarter dividends in the real world.

The outcome, no one from our group took a swim again the remainder of the first day.  A stop at a Lavender farm café allowed for a short bask in the sunshine and consumption of carrot cake.  Food always takes the edge off things.

We eventually arrived at Ohinepane where we set up camp.  The barrels did their job of keeping everything dry from moisture.  Even the beers were cold.   Retiring to the horizontal positions eventuated.  A lone Morepork could be heard echoing it’s call.

That and the backdrop sound from the rumble of the river rapid just around the corner.

4/1/17 Taumarunui Canoe Hire: Just Add Mince

The night on the shed floor all hooded up in stocking nets to stop the beasties from leaving bite marks worked.  It too meant a dry tent when the yellow ball blazed through the cloud to dry up all the rain.  The forecast for the upcoming days was positive and gave us some comfort that any wetness encountered would be bottom up.

Grocery items were placed into shopping trolleys as we ticked off items to be purchased.  It felt good to be getting non-conforming shelf stuff that needn’t be carried.  Too much, we had to use cartons versus supermarket bags.  Thank goodness there was a complimentary pick up by the company we were hiring the canoes off.  The time it took to drive from supermarket to location, we learnt our daughter Claire had got a tattoo of the world map inked on her back!  What kids get up too when parents aren’t there.

Meeting the operators took our mind off paternal responsibility.  Or was it the whiteboard that read “car in river” under Hazards on the route we were to take?  After putting our signatures to taking full ownership of our future eight days on the Wanganui River, we retired to a piece of field to set up camp and sort our food and gear into barrels for carriage.

“Just Add Mince” means what it says.  Except we thought it was a mince dinner already in a can and it wasn’t.  Just the sauce.

Perhaps there was some trepidation at what lay ahead.

There is 234 kilometres from the first paddle until the last with 239 named rapids.

And a car in the middle of that somewhere in-between!

3/2/16 Taupo to Taumarunui – 116kms: Jeez We Have Become Soft

You couldn’t see the other side of Lake Taupo.  Either toward the Central Plateau from Taupo nor across the water from East to West.  Even the wiper blades criss-crossing the windscreen in Charlie’s truck we were being driven in had moments of full speed.  Our face to face catch up concluded at Tokaanu west of Turangi where our noses were once again pointed toward the Te Araroa trail.  Namely Taumarunui.

As we stood under cover from an old disused garage forecourt canopy with thumbs posed for a hitch, we acknowledged that the time spent off the boot soles had been therapeutic.  There have been no new year’s resolutions made for 2017.  Just the usual 3 Big Goals to make 2017 our best year ever and their respective MVP’s to work toward.  The eagerness to get started working on them has been fired up even more so with the festive season down time.  And the friendship/family connectivity.

Cranking up the remainder of the North Island bit started once we got our first and then second hitch lift into Taumarunui.  The rain eased somewhat for the short road walk we did in-between lifts but heaved it down again on our arrival at the campsite we were staying at.  The camp owners felt sorry that we had to pitch Kermit and offered us a mattress in their workshop for the night.

We accepted.  Jeez we have become soft.

However, it’s best to ease back into the routine of hardened TA walker …  treading boots; humping a pack and living in the same under garments for three/four days.  The trouser belt is signalling we have had a jovial season to be jolly.  It’ll soon be a distant memory.  Fat waistline too.

At camp, we met up with our fellow Kiwi TA walker Mike who had arrived yesterday and has now caught us up (walking is a little slower than hitching, ahem!); and then shortly afterwards, the other fellow Kiwi TA walker Nick who left us for dead at the top of the Pirongia’s.  Literally!!

As we sat in the TV room huddling around a table listening to the rain ring down on the roof, we prepared our shopping list for eight days of wilderness canoeing.  Finding out that we can take just about any type of food on the canoe gave us a feeling of relief.

Is alcohol food?

2/2/17 Taupo: A 35 Year Friendship Absence Re-Kindled

We didn’t have to be in Tauramanui until the 3rd so we contemplated staying an extra night and after making contact with Charlie and Michelle, we were offered a bed and a pillow.

The day was spent with more banter and conversation.  We got to meet their daughter Michaela and share artistry talent stories.  Charlie took us on a drive through the place he has worked at for some 27 odd years, the geothermal power plant.

It was interesting to see from the Top 10 where the plumes of steam we saw rising up from the landscape originated from and how it is captured and nurtured into power generated electricity.  The hills are alive with tubes of piping twisted in all directions and angles arriving at different housing stations to purify what comes from beneath the crust.  It was fascinating.

Throw a chicken or two into the scolding hot water and steam and it’s a natural hungi.  Have you ever heard of dry steam before?  It’s a real phenomenon to Google how it goes from wet to dry.

The weather gods weren’t happy as the drizzle turned more severe.  Tomorrow is forecasted for more of the same.  Hope the rapids don’t become a grade higher than a three down the Wanganui River!  Not good, not good, not good.

It was fun to re-connect with Charlie again.  A friendship re-kindled after all the years that have gone by.  And to meet Michelle his wife and thus a new friendship made.  Cemented stronger when we showed Charlie how one inflates a thermal rest mattress by twisting the knob to allow air to be inhaled so as to inflate the thing.

Should be easy to finish up with all the hot air being bellowed by all parties.  Ahem!

01/01/17 Taupo: 3-3-5-3

2016 has been one heck of a ride! And walk, slog, slip and slide!

Old habits discarded. New habits instilled. Experiences collected. Memories reflected.

We’ve strived hard to put more passion, zeal and enthusiasm into everything we’ve done. When things have gone wrong, we have strived at getting better versus hold bitterness. And before we have judged, we have strived to think of our last mistake.

The hospitality shared and the conversations had with fellow beings were instrumental to who we want to become. They still will be. Some more time needed on some things that matter most. Less time on dusting stuff that sits on a shelf. When we next have one!

While a trip lasts only a set amount of days, its effect on your happiness lasts a lifetime. 2016 has been priceless.

Folk have asked how we design the lifestyle we have. Do the crazy things we do. Live in the now.

So I thought I would share the fundamentals that give us the direction. A simple formula that we have used for some time. A kind of blueprint. From time to time we need to tweek. But from experince, it mostly works for us.

3-3-5-3 formula to make this your best year ever …

3 – what are your 3 biggest goals you would like to tick off this year to make it your best year ever?
3 – MVP’s (Most Valuable Priorities) what 3 actions will you do today to tick off that will take you closer to your 3 Big goals to make this your best year ever?
5 – Daily rituals – what 5 daily rituals will you do to become a better you?
3 – what 3 things are you grateful for that happened today that put a grin on your face and gave you that happy feeling?

When you decide on the first number 3, ask this question … what stuff do I need to keep to help me achieve my 3 big goals to make this my best year ever?

Repeat next year.

There you have it. It’s that simple.

Happy New Year everyone. Thank you for being part of our 2016.

Love the Rurus to where ever you are on this awesome planet of ours.

29/12-31/12/16 Turangi to Taupo to New Years Eve: Charlie and Michelle Beagle

An extended night’s stay with Mike and Karen to accept the extended offer for a lift to Taupo resulted.

Being dropped off at the Top 10 Holiday Park in Taupo a day earlier than booked was a risk.  It was manic driving through the town with the population having swollen due to the holiday transients.  Everywhere we passed read, ‘No Vacancy’.  However, when old people with their lives on their backs show up in person with no vehicle, we played the part of looking desperate!

It worked.  We were driven to site 44 and pitched Kermit.  We looked so out of place with just our tent and a half share of a picnic table from the campsite beside on the piece of dirt we would spend our last days of 2016 on.  It was hilarious and eventually neighbours were met with explanation.  And then with wonderment.

Our time with Mike and Karen was outstanding.  They have nutted the dream, design and do down to a tee so as to make the most of every opportunity with passion, zeal and enthusiasm.  This led into a phone call to a fella whom I went through the schooling years with – Charlie Beagle.

He picked us up and we spent an evening dinner with him and his lovely wife Michelle.  It was the first time in over 35 years that we had conversed and so there was a heap of words spoken.  The face was frequently contorted from wrinkles of laughter as we reminisced the growing up days of speedo’s and girls; playing rugby league to youth group shenanigans; present day relationships and working history.  It made returning to our slice of dirt after the camp had quietened down entertaining as we un-zipped a metre of canvas to disappear within the realms of Kermit.  Neighbouring tents were a sound of thunder from the snoring but that didn’t deter our getting comfortable again on the ground to nod off.

With the arrival of the last day of 2016, we were fortunate to be picked up by our Drury hosts Warren and Suzanne who were returning home to Auckland from Wellington.  Breakfast and catch up chat before they too sped off into the traffic flow.  We remained in the lakeside township itself wandering around as tourists until Claire’s brother’s family arrived later in the day.  It was great to see Warren and Co to spend some family time with, family.

As the sun snuck behind the mountain range, the temperature dropped.  We walked back to camp and were in bed for the sound of “Happy New Year”, Auld Lang Syne and the thundering fireworks echoing from the lake water distance.  Sleeping bags moved closer together to acknowledge the year we have just left behind.  It’s been gigantic.   And then we drifted off to sleep again as revellers continued to cheer.

Best wishes for 2017 people.  Make it your best year ever.

« Older posts Newer posts »