Day 49 – Just Around the River Bend

A good night’s sleep in the hut in Whakahoro. We slept with the doors open and had a great breeze coming through the whole night to keep us cool. We probably also slept better knowing that we weren’t hiking in the morning. We had a late start as the canoe outfitter wouldn’t be showing up until ~9:30. Unfortunately we didn’t have much food left and were eargerly anticipating all the food we had coming so we were very ready to go by the time they showed up. Thankfully they also showed up with some delicious muffins. We packed all of our stuff into six barrels and a big dry bag (for our packs), tied it all down in the middle of the canoe and set out. Almost as soon as we set out it started absolutely pouring with rain, so unfortunately this is the only picture of today. There’s some huge cyclone like storm battering New Zealand currently and hopefully this is related to that, if not we have a lot more to come. The rain kept up pretty intensely the whole time and we found that if we ever stopped paddling we got pretty close to hypothermic very quickly. The paddling itself was a lot of fun and a very nice break compared to hiking. We found it a lot easier but this is obviously only day one so we’ll see. We’re following the river South towards the Tasman Sea and covered about 40km in five and a half hours (it was supposed to take seven so this was very good time, although apparently TA hikers often go way faster than the expected times). The current was generally fairly strong the whole way and it felt like we could’ve not paddled for a lot of it. There were a few rapids that came pretty consistently and a good deal of navigating around trees and rocks but these parts were good fun and when done correctly helped us catch the current and propel forward. The ‘trail’ is considered a Great Walk and the scenery along the whole thing was pretty stunning. The river itself was probably 20 – 30 feet wide and surrounded by 50 foot cliffs covered in various moss and trees with large waterfalls every couple minutes. Every part of it felt like something out of a combination of The Last of The Mohicans and Avatar. Being a Great Walk the trail had multiple campsites and many other canoers and jetboaters out and about. We didn’t see any while we were actually paddling but when we pulled in for lunch and in the evening we would see several. We stopped for the briefest lunch we’ve ever had as we quickly realized paddling was the only way to stay warm a few hours in. Enjoying our food would have to wait until later. We hit the John Coull campsite (a DOC campsite) around 4pm and tied up our canoe and carried all of our barrels up to the hut. On the way up we hiked past a couple muddy and wet tent spots (still pouring down) and realizing that we’d been reserved a tent spot and not a spot in the hut, quickly upgraded. Feeling much better once dry and knowing we wouldn’t have to pitch the tent we broke into our food box and devoured cheese, crackers, olives, and wine (I also snuck a few cookies in)! All delicacies we would never be able to enjoy normally on the trail. After a warm dinner out of various canned food that we also normally wouldn’t carry we’ve spent time enjoying the hut, watching the rain, and discussing the weather forecast with the hut warden. She’s telling us it won’t rain tomorrow and I want to believe her. Tomorrow we’re back in the boat for what should be a shorter Day 2 but with a potential hike as well. The hut is pretty busy tonight but we’re going to bed dry and warm and hoping for no rain tomorrow.

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