Day 65 – Flying Fox to Hipango Park

Date: 29 November
Trail covered: 33.1km by kayak (kms 1301.7 to 1334.8)
Weather: same as every day – roasting

Whanganui River Journey – Day 4

Like I figured there would be, there was a rooster making a bunch of noise at 4.30am. We saw the roosters last night so weren’t entirely surprised. But none of us were happy!

This morning at breakfast we overheard the rest of the hikers discussing who goes in what canoe. It looks like some don’t want to go in the back of the canoe, the same as me. But some want to take one turn with each person since this lot have 7 days on the river instead of 5 because they started from Taumarunui and not Whakahoro.

Also I heard that apparently it is recommended that you are a confident kayaker or canoeist to start your journey at Taumarunui instead of Whakahoro. I’m glad I didn’t have to do that.

And apparently it gets easier from here, with fewer rapids. But nobody could tell me how they knew that.

Just before we left the owner of the Flying Fox came up to us and told us one particular member of the other group of hikers didn’t pay. This person was down launching a canoe and so Charlie went down to get the money out of him. His response was “oh I forgot, and the money is in the barrel now, can you just pay for me?” – Charlie was not happy. I thought that given the lecture we got yesterday, this really doesn’t show hikers in a good light and really was not on.

Speaking of hikers not being shown in a good light… I used my Wifi last night to send a message to the owner of the Instagram profile who has been putting up the stickers everywhere. I woke to a response… here it is.

Me: Hi. I see you’ve been posting your Instagram stickers all over the Te Araroa trail buildings – every hut, every shelter, every toilet has that damn sticker on it. Can you stop please? Do you really think it’s okay to graffiti everything like this? How would you like it if I stuck pictures of my genitals all over your stuff? I’m taking it down everywhere I see it so could you please just save me the hassle and just stop it?

Her: Well I’m gonna put my stickers where ever I want- if you don’t like it, don’t look at it. It’s not your business at all. A lot of people like it though.

Ah, the old “if you don’t like it, don’t look at it” defence. Kind of hard when it’s staring you right in the face every time you use a shelter. The response wasn’t too nasty and she didn’t swear at me so I’m not going to start a witchhunt on Facebook to find this person, but like before if like me you don’t appreciate this kind of thing then I encourage you to send ladyyvader on Instagram a message.

Enough about that. I’m going to be on the kayak again today. We packed up our stuff and I got on the kayak and didnt have my lifejacket. I didn’t even realise until Ethan yelled out to me – oops.

The water was indeed a lot calmer than the previous three days. We stopped at a pretty good lunch spot – no mud when disembarking and a nice shady hill.

Sweet lunch spot

To be honest the day was quite uneventful. The most interesting thing that happened was Peter and Charlie wrapped their canoe  around a big tree branch in the water. I didn’t see how it happened and it’s not clear how they didn’t see it. The canoe didn’t tip but the front of the canoe was sticking way up out of the water so it took a bit of a balancing act to get it afloat again. It wasn’t as bad as yesterday with the rock incident Peter and I had.

There was lots of headwind towards the end. It seemed to affect me on the kayak more than it affected the canoes. I can’t really complain. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, overall I’ve been lucky with the weather. I took a bit of time to reflect how much this river journey would suck if it was windy and raining. The answer to that is a lot.

We arrived at a place called Hipango Park.

Hipango Park information

This was a legitimate campsite owned by the council, but yet it didn’t exist on the Guthook app. I looked online and in the FAQ the creators of the app seem to suggest that if a campsite exists but doesn’t show in the app then it’s almost certainly an illegal campsite. Gee, that’s a bit obnoxious. There is no obvious way to tell Guthook that they’re missing something. That is just another reason to add to the list of reasons that the Guthook app annoys me a bit.

The campground from inside the shelter

This camp has a big grass area and shelter.

Lots of space to set up

And four toilets.

4x loos

The information on the sign explains that the river is tidal from this point, meaning that if you don’t leave at high tide or shortly after, you’re going to be paddling against the current. That’s a bit annoying as the high tide tomorrow is at 1am or 1:20pm. Of course I’m not leaving at 1am and so that means a fair bit of waiting around tomorrow morning so that the tide is right.

Here is where I learned an interesting fact. The other four told me that they are actually planning on leaving at 1am. At first I thought they were joking but they are actually serious. Apparently it means that 1. they don’t have to wait for high tide in the afternoon, 2. they can see the stars as they paddle and 3. they will have a lot more time to hang out in Whanganui.

What it also means is that they have to take two out of my three barrels with them as my kayak can only hold one barrel. So I have to do a bit of organising and sort my stuff out so that anything I need for tomorrow fits into one barrel, including the tent of course. That shouldn’t be a problem, but what I’m less excited about is that they will have to leave my stuff at the Whanganui Holiday Park where the canoes are left, and everything will just be sitting around there for maybe 12 hours until I arrive and can retrieve it. I’m less thrilled about that but I’m not going to change their minds.

Part of me wants to go with them at that time but I don’t have a strong headlamp and also it seems dangerous. So that I’m not kayaking alone I will attach myself to the other hikers that have been at every campsite and have once again turned up here.

Because of this early departure, they have to go to sleep really early to get up for such an early start time. They decided to save time by just sleeping in the shelter at 7pm. It looked quite funny.

Charlie lying in the shelter and Peter brushing his teeth at 7pm

Alex said this evening that this is one of the more dangerous rivers he has canoed. For someone like him who has done a lot of canoeing to say that is scary. I’m glad I was with this group while on the river. They have been patient and have respected my wishes… and also they aren’t aren’t loud at night!

Time for sleeping with no tent fly again, I decided

Today I managed to get a very sunburnt top of my right hand. A really odd place to get sunburnt, I thought!

Alex asleep in his tent and Peter asleep on the other table in the shelter

Today's walk on the map (blue = Te Araroa, red = today's walk):

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