Day 48: Double Zero in Taumarunui
Wednesday, December 27, 2023 1:33 pm
Location: Taumarunui / Twin River Motel (1056.5 km)

We took another another day of rest and chores in Taumarunui, as we prepared for the next week and a half of the trail.

  • We got up at 5:30 to be ready to head to Taumarunui Canoe Hire at 6:30 when our shuttle there arrived.
  • Our driver was here promptly on time. On our way to their base, we stopped and picked up Craig and Kirsty (the Scottish couple we met on our way into Hamilton), who were on their way by foot.
  • Our briefing, at 7, was quite informative on how to handle canoes on the Whanganui River.
  • We planned on a three-day trip from Whakahoro to Pipiriki, and asked about cycling the rest of the way to Whanganui. When we were told the campsite itinerary we had been asked to book was assuming five days to Whanganui, the last day of our three-day float would only be one hour, and that we’d need to contact “the mail lady” about shuttling our packs (since we wouldn’t want to bike 70 km while wearing our packs), I immediately knew this would be an expensive logistical nightmare. We asked about continuing on the river. The primary concern was about the difficulty of the river, and the lower half of the river is apparently easier than the upper half we had to do anyway. So we decided to just extend the trip all the way to Whanganui. (Fortunately, 5 days doesn’t cost more than 3 days.)
Whanganui River
Whanganui RiverThe river, from Taumarunui Canoe Hire’s briefing room.
  • After repacking our resupply we purchased yesterday into barrels for the boat, we returned to town.
  • It drizzled on us a bit on our way back. That was the extent of the rain for the day; afterwards, it became hot and bright, with striking puffy white clouds in the sky.
  • We got “serviced” hut tickets from the iSite, in case CareFree needs them on the Round the Mountain loop we might do, weather permitting, since we have extra time between now and when we need to be at Whakahoro for canoeing. We also got breakfast.
  • The tube for my water bladder had collected a lot of mold over the past month and a half. We’d intended to stop at the outfitter in town to see if they had something to help, but they weren’t open yet. On a hunch, I asked our motel’s manager (who was in the process of doing housekeeping on other rooms) if they had a long brush that could work to clean it out, but they didn’t have one both small and long enough to do the job.
  • We packed up, and moved across the street to Twin River Motel (coincidentally, into the same room number as we’d had at Alexander Motel). I asked the manager there if she had something that might help. She didn’t, but offered to think about it for a bit. A few minutes later, she came back with a couple of brushes that didn’t work for the hose (but worked great in cleaning out the mold in my water bottle), a straightened-out clothes hanger, and a cut-up tea towel. CareFree added a small bit of duct tape to the tip of the clothes hanger to keep it from poking through the towel (and the tube), but in the end, the towel wasn’t necessary; the taped-up clothes hanger was sufficient to rub the mold off the inside of the tube.
  • We called the Whakapapa Holiday Park, towards the end of the trail in the Tongariro National Park, and asked if they’d be willing to hold a package for us. They said yes. We then went to the stationary store in town which also has an NZ Post desk. We confirmed with them that if we got a package ready by 3:00 pm, that should be enough time to get it to the holiday park by when we’ll get there. (Holidays, weekends, and rural delivery are complicating matters.)
  • We went to McDonald’s for lunch, and to finalize the plan for the next week from Taumarunui to Whakahoro. The weather is a significant complicating factor. What we ended up with is: we carry five days of food out of town, leaving tomorrow. We booked two nights at Tongariro Holiday Park (near the north end of the trail in Tongariro National Park). We hope that the weather will either improve, or else maybe we stay a third night. After that, we do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is supposed to be one of the most amazing trails in New Zealand (and not worth doing — or dangerous — in bad weather). That brings us to Whakapapa Holiday Park, where we collect our resupply box. Again weather depending, we then either take the Around the Mountain trail (in two or three days) which loops around Ruapehu, the tallest mountain on the North Island, and then head west, to the tiny town of National Park, and then on to Whakahoro for the Whanganui River. It’s all annoying complicated, and largely out of our hands, but we’ll make the best of it we can.
  • We did our resupply in record time, and were done with buying, repacking, and mailing off our box with 20 minutes to spare. We continued to be impressed at the relatively low-cost of sending packages in New Zealand.
  • All of our chores done, we relaxed for the rest of the day, repacked our food in our packs, and got pizza for dinner.