Above and below is a natural amphitheater that once hosted the Auckland Symphony who played a performance for the Maori (native New Zealanders of Polynesian descent) as a thank you for their hospitality on the river.
We were blessed to experience that hospitality first hand as our guide was a friend of the hosts of one of the river‘s marae (Maori land and meeting house) and arranged for us to be formally welcomed into their land. The guardians of that land elected to perform a ritual called pōwhiri to unite us, the visitors, with the local tribe, called the iwi. Our guide Cole, of Maori descent himself, exchanged formal greetings and thanks in the native language before allowing each of us to do the same. We performed the traditional physical greeting, hongi, by shaking hands and touching noses symbolizing a sharing of breath. After greeting each other, we shared tea and snacks. Having participated in the ritual, the people of that marae considered us extended family and their ancestors would protect us for the remainder of our journey. Certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, we will be posting more pictures and descriptions after the trip.
Eventually the wind took its tool as 3/4 boats capsized by the end of the day. First was our guide Cole, canoeing solo who suffered only a bruised ego but managed to keep our lunch dry. Second, John and Della took on the biggest rapid of the river, aptly nicknamed 50/50 for its success rate, but did not manage to survive. A picture of the rescue below but hopefully Johns go-pro first person footage will be available post-trip.
Lastly, we managed 89.89 km before succumbing to the final rapid within sight of the trip end. Our lifeguard skills kicked in: Manny performed a perfect deep water entry, somehow managing to keep her hair dry and Garrett flipped the now upside down canoe. We claimed it was a training exercise for the new guides...
This 3 day canoe expedition is brought to you by Matt. Thank you for your ongoing support of our illl prepared but always entertaining adventures.
We are now headed to Tongariro for the alpine crossing tomorrow. Now that our arms are beyond repair, let’s see how quickly we can destroy our legs with the volcano ascent.