Who wants to fall in the Whanganui River?

Saturday the 16th of December, we left Taumarunui for a 7 days adventure on the Whanganui River. This is a very special river, that enjoys legal personality. Seriously.
We're very excited about this journey, as it will be the first time in our life that we spend more than a few hours on a river. So, here we go!
After a security briefing and a security check, they allow us to start paddling on the river. It will take us 7 to 8 days to reach the city of Whanganui, 217km further.
After less than 10', the current brings us on a rock and we fill up a half of our canoe. Keeping the balance is difficult, but we somehow manage not to soak and to empty it. Back we are, beware beware!
Selfie with 'Renée la canoë', our Canadian canoe
After a while, we hit... No, not a rock. A tree this time. A beautiful branch of a death tree that has nothing better to do than standing at the center of the current. Let's put things like they are : we tried to avoid it, really. But the renter told us that the front of the canoe is very strong and that if the current brings us in direction of an obstacle, it's better to go straight on it than risking to end up perpendicular to the current. If it does and that the canoe is stuck against a rock or a tree, the risk is high that it will get filled by the water and that the pressure will destroy the canoe...
We don't want to kill Renée. That's the name we gave to our canoe. Because she's a Canadian, she received a French name. She might be from Quebec after all! And if you know how to pronounce "Canoë" in French, you'll understand why Renée was the perfect name for her. And our canoe is a female, as a tribute to the recent discussions in France and Belgium about the impact of the language on gender inequality.

And you might want to know what happened next, after we hit the branch? OK, let's face it. We fell in the water and floated a few minutes, with Renée completely upside down, before we could reach the shore and empty her. What an adventure!
That said, that's the only time we went to meet the fishes out of the 7 days...
We made a break at a lavender farm, where I ate a wonderful coffee and nuts muffin. Our friends Sibylle and Sven joined us after a while, completely wet as well. The same tree had had the same effect on them than on us!
A nice side of a canoe trip is that we don't have to carry anything ourselves. Renée does all the work for us. In consequence, I'm happy to share with you that we had a lot of nice food with us : carrots, apples, bananas, tomatoes, fresh pastas, Indian sauces and cooked rice, salmon, eggs, chips, cider, etc.
No picture of it, I'm against foodporn!
Talking about pics, if you look at them (and I hope you do because it takes a lot of time to add them, upload them and format them with my phone on this bloody blog) you might end up thinking that we had only good weather and that the river was very calm. Actually, our pics don't reflect the reality of our experience on the river, but we were too afraid of soaking the phone, so we took it out of the barrels only when it was safe.

After having faced the cold rain and the wind during the whole day, it feels good to relax with the other Te Araroa walkers. Sorry, Te Araroa paddlers is probably more appropriate.
There are our Swiss friends, Sven and Sibylle, that earned their trail name "Speedy" for Sven and "Gonzalez" for Sibylle. Then, there are also the Global Hobos, Tanya and David, that we met at the beginning of our trail, in Ahipara. And last but not least, Mike from Scotland.

Something I really like about this section is that we spend a few days with the same people and this offers us the chance to get to know each other, beyond the first impression we might have had about each other.
I'm fond of these people we're travelling with. And slowly, I observed that we started to share more about ourselves but also more food and drinks. Lately, I had kind of a regret that we keep meeting people that we might not see again. The feeling here is different. We meet for a limited amount of time, but it's at least a few days in a row.
We reached Whanganui Camping on Friday 22nd of December. We decided for a rest day on the 23rd. Just enough time to make a laundry and sleep as much as we can. On the 24th,we'll take a bus to Wellington. Kelvin invited us for Christmas as well as some other hikers that started on the same day. It will be nice to see everyone there and share this family time.
On the 26th, Marie-Laure's father will join us for holidays on the southern island. We're eager to see him.
Actually, we're quite happy and excited about the 2 weeks coming, that will be about friendship and family.

Before publishing this post, I would like to thank you for reading it and sending messages and feedbacks. It's really nice to hear from you. We wish you a merry Christmas and an happy new year or happy Losar.
Next post on this blog will be mid-January. Do not hesitate to like us on Facebook (The Belgian Travellers au Pays des Kiwis) if you want some news in the in-between!

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