Start: Cherry Grove, Taumaruni
Length: 5 Days
Distance: 145km (90mi)
Accommodation: Camping ($14) or Hut ($32)
Daily Paddling: 6hr average
Company: Yeti Tours
Cost in NZD $200 Rental
What an amazing trip! There is no resupply along the trip except for water. Before leaving the States on this grand adventure, I enjoyed a really good lunch with a friend of mine. As we were leaving, he proceeded to give me some money and I was told to use it for something special. Well I thought this qualified as it is the first time I have ever done a trip like this let alone kayak for more than an hour. So thank you Dave for helping me with this great experience!
Arriving Sunday night in Ohakune, I met up with Yeti Tours and proceeded to start packing up my kayak. It is always a pain learning how to pack new bags especially when there isn’t a lot of space. I soon figured it all out and was ready to go in the morning when 7am rolled around.
It was an hour drive to Cherry Grove in Taumarunui where the journey would begin! Arriving, we unloaded the kayak and canoe as the two other people in the group showed up. Since I am a solo traveler, I’m not able to go down the river by myself so ended up joining Steve and Elin.
Heading off on our first day, it was quite rainy and cold. None of us really knew what we were in for and didn’t dress ready for the day. Cold, drench, and unable to feel our hands much, we pulled into a lavender farm three hours down the river, we were told it was only an hour. Luckily there was a small cafe here where we all enjoyed a lovely warm cup of coffee and a muffin. After warming up some, it was time for waterproofs and to continue on down to Poukaria campsite.
Day 2: Poukaria to Whakahoro-Was a better day as the sun kept coming out and less rain! It really was a good day on the river. Nice and calm in parts where we all just enjoyed floating and relaxing as the river took us.
Then there were rapids and always a challenge to make sure the right path is taken. Even more important not flipping over. Unfortunately, Steve and Elin weren’t so lucky this day and were dumped in the freezing cold water. I somehow managed without a skirt on the kayak but almost sunk a couple times from being flooded.
Day 3: Whakahoro to John Coull Hut-Another lovely day on the river. By this time, we were all getting to know each other. Steve and Elin have been backpacking and tramping through New Zealand and were super friendly and nice to me. We had some great times together and I was very fortunate to enjoy this 5 day journey with two great people.
Arriving to John Coull Hut, we set up camp and had such an amazing spot over looking the river.
Day 4: John Coull Hut to Tieke Kainga-What a miserable day! It was cold and rainy and everything was wet as a constant drizzle and cloud cover hung over us. Today would be a day with a few hours of silence as we paddled along since each of us didn’t feel like talking.
Over half way through the journey, it was time to take a little side trip to see the Bridge to Nowhere. Fueling up with some food we were off on a 40min hike to the bridge. Like I said before, we all got along great and decided walking wasn’t the best thing and went for a short run to help warm up. This cut the journey in half! The bridge was really beautiful and cool. It was built after WWI to help with settlements in the area. But before WWII it was abandoned and the promised road to go through the area was never built.
Day 5: Tike Kainga to Pipiriki-Our last day on the river. We woke up to rain and slowly packed all of our wet belongings up. It is never fun getting dressed into cold wet gear either. By 9:30am we were on the river and about an hour later the sun started coming out! Half way through the journey, we all misread one of the rapids and Steven and Elin got their canoe stuck trying to avoid the rushing water. Lucky for me, the canoe was light enough to make it over just scraping the bottom.
This was a great trip! I was able to make two new friends and was so fortunate that they were awesome. We both got along great and were in no rush during this journey. Some lazy mornings and time spent on the river floating without much paddling. Yummy food was eaten and thanks a ton guys for the hot soup! This definitely helped out a ton on those cold days. I would definitely do this trip again.