1218 – 1243 John Coull Hut

Can’t say Taumarunui River Canoes did spectacularly well but they got to us in the end and remembered all our food even if the rope they gave us to tie off was too short to reach the first tie off. Cest la vie. John Coull was all right though.

The river is running quite high which is making the journey faster. It is also smoothing out the rapids. We didn’t actually stay in the hut when we got to it. John Coull campsite is a series of terraces on the banks of the river. There were quite a few people there.

Not being in the hut also means we don’t have to carry all our drums of stuff so far.

Anyway. The Whanganui River is fantastic, beautiful, and amazing. Also, I am shit in canoes. The last time I was in a canoe was 20 years ago on the Hokitika and it shows. I am leaving the steering to Ken as he is better at it. I tend to turn us around to often.

Unfortunately Ken screwed up his arm back before Taumaranui so he is only really good on one side. This means I have to paddle constantly on the other. Luke is very experienced with canoes so Silvan barely has to paddle. Luke dips his paddle in the water occasionally and the bloody thing obeys him like magic.


  • Eventually Ken got so pissed off with our canoe that Taumaranui Canoes refunded some money. Very nice of them I thought.
  • The Bridge to Nowhere is a nice walk with a not particularly spectacular end.
  • Following the foam is the fastest way. Luke says the foam generally follows the fastest water.
  • Aim for the V.
  • Watch out for the eddies and if they are trying to tip you out then try leaning into them a bit.
  • There are a lot of goats on the Whanganui.
  • It’s hard to take photos while paddling.
  • Alcohol is a good thing to have at the end of the day on a river journey.

John Coull Hut Map

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1218 – Zero Day at the Blue Duck Cafe

Just another rest day. This one was to miss some rain that doesn’t seem to have eventuated while waiting for the canoes. I am filling it instead with the somewhat random food from the Blue Duck Cafe.

The panini are good but yesterday I bought dinner for $20 without first ascertaining what it was an was given a bowl of rice with some sort of meat on it…..The coffee is OK though.

Cabin fever seems to be edging closer. There is always someone coming in or out or talking. We are dealing with it as best we can. In my case this included a rendition of “We will rock you” played on elastic bands held in toes and teeth with mumbled lyrics.

Another Te Araroa person turned up. She plays the violin but couldn’t carry one so she brought a recorder instead. She’s quite good on it.

Ken kept on trying to call the canoe people and they haven’t returned his calls. It is making him irate. There was a little bit of happiness in my day when I called. I got them straight away. The canoes are coming tomorrow.

I can’t say I really like this place. Although possibly I am not in the best frame of mind. The Blue Duck Cafe is bad and expensive. It is boring. I am usually much better at waiting than this. Whakahoro just isn’t my thing.

1201 Р1218 Whakahoro 

Short day and easy walking along the road to Whakahoro which must be very hard to keep open.

It only took us about 4hrs to get to it and there is a cafe there….although it seems to have curiously little food. You either eat what they have or get nothing. They do have an axe throwing pitch to take out any aggression. I was disappointed. I expected more.

We have, as usual, arrived to early. I am not sure how this happens. We read the track notes. They say three days. We do it in one and a half. I am waiting for them to catch us out.

It would be nicer if we could start the canoe journey now. Having to work to a timeline you gave a week ago doesn’t really work.

Zero day tomorrow.


  • Booking our canoes gave us a timeline….for good or bad.
  • Ask what they are serving before they serve it. Dinner at the Blue Duck Cafe cost us $20 each and we still haven’t figured out what it was.
  • There is internet at the cafe but is is expensive.
  • Some hikers are driven to continue and rile at any delay.

Whakahoro Map

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