For all those who can't remember who or what paddling is, the following people participated on this jolly excellent weekend: Jenny (oh my goodness I've lost my contact lenses) Cassie, Alice (from the palace in Dallas) Karvelas, Mark (I'll smoke if I want to) Duckworth, Kelly (what a hoot) Bargh, Duncan (You won't be scared) McEwan, Ceri (I can bake it) Williams, Johnny (never gets tired) Mulheron, Margie (Great southern woman but I don't know her last name), Dave (Yes I've got a nice car) Alderton, and Kate (Who's she again) Riddell. If I've forgotten anybody, I'm awfully sorry -- I'm getting too old so can't remember everything.
And this is what we did. Access 10 on the Tongariro - at a lovely 19 cumecs, slightly higher than normal, and very pleasant on a warm day. The only time I've ever heard anyone on this particular river call it not awfully freezing. Should be paddled only when the sun is shining, the volcano hasn't just erupted, Jenny's got spare contact lenses (``I can't hear whether the river goes left or right!''), Kate doesn't attract rocks, and Ceri doesn't spear herself. Otherwise a surprisingly pleasant and not overly difficult section in a notoriously cold area. Takes a whole day, so make sure you've got some spare clothes, food, clean water, and matches for that emergency fire or smoke signal. The only spare getout is at a prison, and by then you're nearly at the car so you may as well carry on and not stress about mixing with the criminal element!
The next day, Sunday, after a mighty pleasant Saturday evening hot pool at Spa Park (that no one knows about except us -- NOT!), and a quick look at the wave at Ngaawapurua, it was off to the Rangataiki via a forestry road short cut. At least it would have been a short cut if someone had known where we were going, but is a mighty pleasant, dust filled tiki tour for the unitiated or those who are so old they can't remember the way.
The river was at an absolute primo level. Brave Kelly, Mark and Dave did the top section with Mark soloing a pumping Jeff's Joy, while the rest of us drove around a lot, and then we all paddled one of the nicest grade 2-3 sections in the North Island if not the whole goddamned world. What a spectacular day! Sunshine, warmth, playwaves for all, beautiful vegetation, birdsong, happy vibes and a flat tyre or two. Reminded us all why paddling is the source, and we're all going to do much more of it.
Back to Ngaawapurua via the Secret Spot (definitely not!) hot pools and a yummy camp dinner. Then up bright and early to watch various gods of the pantheon paddling ``the wave'' before waiting til everyone else had gone before having a go, to avoid humiliation at the hands of a piping piece of water action.
And then alas home, but not before a stopoff at the mighty Waihohonu Stream along the Desert Road (a great opportunity to show off ones paddling gear to all the passing cars, and maybe a soldier or two).
The Waihohonu is a jolly pleasant and adrenalin packed wee river that packs a punch. Only an hour of so of portaging required if you prefer to skip the grade four and five rapids. From the portages, it's not too far to the getout, and then dinner, followed by a long trip home, happy but tired. If planning a trip down the Waihohonu, be prepared (as always, of course) to scout in places. And if Don Johnstone walks it, it's OK for me to too.
The moral of this rather eclectic story: Paddling is fun, paddlers are nice, nothing matters more than paddling. Come paddling with VUCC!
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