Day 49. Flying Fox lodge – Hippango Campsite. Canoeing. 35km. Total 1350km.
After last night’s “party” it’s slow going this morning. This place is so cool we don’t want to leave anyway too soon. I get up to prepare myself a hot chocolate and go back to my tent. Later we have some muesli for breakfast as the sun starts coming out. Everyone is just hanging out, having a shower, talking to our hosts, using Wi-Fi and checking out the nice place. At 11am we prepare our freshly baked bread in some pans with melted cheese. I buy two eggs for 1$ and enjoy it with bread.
Then it’s time to pack up our dried tents and carry everything back down to the river. We will be canoeing to the Hippango Campsite (initially thinking it’s 30km but it’s 35km). I thought the canoeing through farmland might be boring but although less impressive the hills are still pretty nice.
It’s now really hot as the sun burns on us. We start singing and as it’s today December 1 we soon get to some Christmas songs. After a few hours time is moving too slow and we all are tired and bored of rowing so we just put our three boats next to each other and hold on to them, letting us simply drift in the water. Brad is putting on some Christmas carols on his phone and we share a bottle of cider. What a completely different but perfect pre-Christmas time sitting here in a boat in the hot sun drinking cider with Christmas songs, compared to my usual hot wine and cold temperatures in some Christmas market in Berlin. I just love it and enjoy this great moment with my friends.
Eventually we arrive at the campsite, Robin and Chloé, René and the two other Canadians are already there! We carry everything up the hill again to a rather nice campground with a big shelter, today we need it to hide from the sun. It’s 5pm but we cook an early dinner and go to bed soon as we are still tired from our party yesterday (at least I am!).
Start is at 7.30am carrying again all the heavy barrels back down to the river and tying them well up. My least favourite part of canoeing. Then it’s paddling and singing and talking until we get to a cafe which has a landing!
Time for a Moccachino before attacking the last 5km, the toughest ones as it’s against an incoming tide. But at least we don’t have a lot of wind today which would have made it even harder. There are some rowing boats coming in and a big steam boat before we reach the Whanganui holiday park. We unpack our boats, putting everything back in our backpacks. We put the empty barrels back under the boats and leave them here for a later pick up by Taumarunui Canoe company. It’s great we didn’t have to set up a specific date and we’re flexible on when to bring the boats in.
Our initial plan was to walk the remaining 4km into town and stay in the YHA. As it’s fully booked we rather decide to share a cabin here instead of a noisy busy YHA.
After a shower the holiday park shuttles us into town for some walking around, shopping, coffee, pizza, resupply…. Tomorrow is the weekly market and we want to go there, somehow I still ended up buying all my resupply at the Countdown! I will just have to carry it.
I also bought some German Christmas Stollen to share with my Canadians tonight as a goodbye desert. They are all continuing the Te Araroa hike tomorrow while I have planned to make a detour to Mount Taranaki and hike a couple of days there. I need to be in Wellington on the 20th December and I should hopefully have enough time including this side trip. Since I saw that beautiful mountain from the Tongariro crossing I want to go there. It’s only about 60km from Whanganui, easy to reach and not a big detour.