Saturday, 20 April 2013
Wanganui River Road
Spiral Train to National Park
At Tokaanu the camp had a thermal spa and a mineral pool too which helped Neil and I recover from the grey and drizzly ride down the coast of Taupo Lake. From Tokaanu to Tauramanni was a long uphill ride to a saddle, where I got soaked in a massive downpour' I then managed to find Rick and Jen, who I'd met in Otago, and they invited me around for dinner. An hours train ride took me up to National park via the famous spiral. Up top it was very cloudy and I saw nothing of the mountains and volcanoes. I did however meet up with Neil again and we had some drinks and another spa.
Down the River Road
The next day we had a very fast twenty mile descent in low cloud and drizzle. We then took the Wanganui River road which is a wonderfully scenic, but often unmade, road following the river valley down to the coast. We had lunch in Pipiriki, and had a quick look around the Colonial House there. After passing through many villages named after European capitals we arrived at Ranana (London in Maori) and camped in a very damp field. The amenities building had been taken over by a travelling Maori family, but we had a very pleasant evening sharing the facilities and chatting over dinner. I went through 3000 miles today.
The final section of the road down to Wanganui was accompanied by fine weather and we enjoyed the ride, chasing sheep as we went. We finally had to climb steeply from the the river valley and could look back to the winding greenness of the valley below us. That evening we stayed at a haunted YHA (though I didn't hear anything go bump in the night) and went out for a Chinese dinner to celebrate my last evening out.
Final Train to Wellington
Today I had to ride 25 miles to Marton to catch the train. All the buses from Wanganui were full. After a tedious five hour wait for the train I was almost refused passage as the train was extremely busy. On the train, finally, I chatted to a group of country ladies going to Wellington for the first time. I was met by Jo at Wellington Station and I had to ride the last two or three miles up the steep hills to her flat. This almost finished me off! After a quick shower we went out to a cocktail party and got slaughtered.