1370 – 1476 Palmerston North

Due to the 100km of road walking we decided to get the bus from Whanganui to Palmerston North. Walking up the side of a state Highway for 100km just isn’t that much fun.

On the way to the bus station I was going to jump on a tram and have a glass of wine for Dave but unfortunately I was informed that the trams were out of action due to flooding. This was later disputed by someone else but by then it was too late. I was already on the bus.

The bus ride was very good and I spent most of the time talking to the bus driver. He was a very good story teller. I know you aren’t supposed to talk to bus drivers, but hey, he kept his eyes on the road. I was glad we hadn’t walked this part. There isn’t much verge on the side of the road and there are a lot of cars and trucks.

We got off in the centre of town, in the square. Palmerston North is bigger than I thought but so far nice. I think I will rest here tomorrow and hopefully Gareth and Emily will get my messages so I can go and see them.

There are homeless people here too. The last ones I saw were up in Hamilton. It is a strange country we live in.


  • Although there is a lot of road walking others who it part said there were some good parts.
  • I would have liked to have seem Bulls.

Palmerston North Map

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1325 – 1370 Wanganui 

There is a thing that happens where before bed we all agree that we can sleep in the next morning but at 5:30am someone wakes up and deflates their mattress and then the race to the start of the day begins….In fact in general you could say we aren’t very good at following plans.

Today’s plan involved a relaxing paddle down the river to catch the tide and end up in Whanganui. The actuality was going to fast, preempting the tide, and then paddling against it for 3 hours or so.

We got there in the end. And then we got to the liquor store. The rest of the evening was quite nice. There was a small earthquake. All the birds stopped and the Wanganui moved strangely. We made a fire and then sat around talking till the late hours.

I spent a good part of the evening trying to convince a French girl to go to the Police. She had been woofing upriver and the man she was woofing for had got more and more touchy and feely and then had tried to kiss her. She said a couple of the other girls there had had the same thing happen but it had never gone further. I thought she should give the cops a heads up in case it did.


  • Don’t paddle against the tide when trying to get to Whanganui.
  • Lugging barrels of luggage up and down river banks is no fun.
  • Some canoes are better than others.
  • That nice bank you want to pull up on for lunch is probably knee deep river silt.


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1265 – 1325 Downes Hut

60kms on a river takes a long time. Eventually you look forward to the rapids just so you can stop paddling against the wind a bit. On one of the last sets we went to ford it as it went under trees but then Luke came back and took Ken down through it.

Other than that, the Whanganui continued to roll out incredible vista after incredible vista beginning with the deep green gorge look and changing somewhere above Jerusalem to include more and more farmland.

I would have liked to have stopped at Jerusalem. It was the home of James K Baxter for a long time. I hadn’t worked that out before the journey though and it takes two to paddle a canoe. Everybody wants to get to Wanganui as quickly as possible.

Even though it is a Saturday there appears to be little traffic on the river with only a couple of jet boats spotted and I think all but one were working for DOC.

Tomorrow we will continue down to Whanganui as long as the tide and winds are kind. Downes Hut is quite small and already has people in it so we are camped near it in the bush. Very tired.


  • Once past Jerusalem the river quietens down a lot.
  • Jerusalem looked quite nice. I would have liked to visit.
  • Being trapped in a canoe makes me irate.
  • Always blame the person steering.

Downes Hut Map

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1243 – 1265 Tieke Kainga Hut

The river started out in the same style with vast green canyons and continued in this manner until after the Bridge to Nowhere.

We walked up to the Bridge to Nowhere. It is indeed a bridge in the middle of nowhere. It reminds me of Moeawatea. Same situation. After the war they gave people land that was useless. They tried for years to make it work and then had to abandon it. Nice country to visit. Bad country to live.

Goats are common on the steep banks. Sometimes it is so steep I can’t figure out how they get there.

Lunch was on the side of the river on a bank made of the world’s most perfect river skipping stones and finding occasional fossils. I think 14 was the most skips i saw but it might have got higher.

It’s sort of hard to talk about the journey as much of it is the same but it is nice. It is also very tiring to paddle for so long, but at the same time not paddling is boring.


  • The river was quite high when we did it but our travel times where very fast.
  • There was a lot of alcohol outside the Marae.
  • There is always one group of campers who yell all night.

Tieke Kainga Map

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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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