'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Monday, 2 January 2012

Trip down the Whanganui River.



It rained a lot. My goodness, did it rain. It started on Boxing Day. The gutters overflowed, the roar pounded on the tin roof and it seemed like it had forever been soggy. My little river rose and rushed oily and thick past the house.

My two sons and thirteen friends had planned the canoe trip down the Whanganui for months and when they arrived at the beginning of the journey the company did not dissuade them, despite the severe weather warning forecast. It was to be a trip they will never forget. Five days of torrential rain and by the last day, the river had come up eight meters (24 feet) and was still rising when they reached the pick-up point at the end. Brown waterfalls gushed like fire hoses from the sides of the gorge and the whirl-pools cast them from left to right without warning. They had to avoid huge logs and debris that were carried along in accumulated masses in the centre of the channel, including chunks of white pumice - floating volcanic rock. They completed each days' sections at almost twice the speed (1.8 x to be precise) and although the first day was relatively uneventful, the final stretch literally went off with a bang - well with many bangs - as the clouds opened even wider, the river was crushed flat by the rain and the thunder boomed and reverberated off the valley sides.














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Epilogue:
The Whanganui River travels though thick forest for the centre part of its journey from the volcanic plateau to the coast. My sons and their friends went from Taumaranui to Pipiriki which is just north of Jerusalem on this map. The river has a very gentle gradient and meanders through a series of huge regular bends. This gentle river was historically an important travel route, enabling both Maori and European to access far into the interior of New Zealand in the early days.

http://www.teara.govt.nz

Image above from: Molloy, L, and Smith, R. (2002) Landforms. The Shaping of New Zealand. Wellington: Craig Potton Publishing.

7 comments:

  1. That sounds like quite an adventure.

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  2. Even though we have our own winter rainstorms here it does not seem like I have much reason to wish myself across the world!

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  3. My word! What a thrilling adventure that was! I love your descriptions; better than being there in person, I'm sure (at least for a person of certain age.)

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  4. Good grief! I'd have been worried sick!! I knew the Kiwis have very little sense of danger, from our year there, but sheesh! It's a wonder they weren't swept right down to the coast and spat out into the Tasman Sea!

    Looks as if he actually had fun though! Rather him than me. LOL!

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  5. Whanganui, indeed! Why can't you name your rivers something simple, like Hudson?

    Please pass the Pipiriki; I want to sprinkle it on my Taumaranui....

    I hope you know I'm only teasing!

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  6. Geeb. Indeed!

    Dawn - I was quite envious of the trip...until about a day before when I looked at the weather forecast!

    Pat - this is the abridged version. I think there were moments of great fun and hilarity. Especially involving blue food colouring which my son apparently slipped in many of the foods and beverages.

    Jay - I was worried, I confess. Especially as there was no cell phone coverage and I didn't hear from them until the last day. I took solace in the knowledge that the company was to give them a beacon. As it happened, they didn't. and I'm glad I didn't know that!

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  7. Robert - and here's me thinking you'd pass some freshly-ground comment on the place called Bethlehem!

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