Bridge to Nowhere

Last
week Ian’s sister Maggi (Margie) arrived in Wellington for an extended visit. On
Friday she went for a walk through Trelissik Park, not far from the house, and in
the evening the three of us went to a party hosted by colleagues who live up the
coast in Mana.  For the weekend we decided
to take Maggi up to Wanganui. On the way we stopped at a few places – Paekakariki
for a coffee at the little cafe, Foxton to visit the replica Dutch windmill, and
Bulls for lunch. When we got to Wanganui we went to
visit
Virginia Lake. This is very pleasant, with a conservatory which had lots of
Christmas decorations and interesting sculptures. We walked round the lake,
seeing plenty of water birds, and admired the fountain in the lake. After dinner
that night the three of us got a taxi back to the lake to watch the fountain
lit up and the other lights in the park.

On Sunday we got up early, packed, and then
drove up the Whanganui River Road. We stopped a few times to take photos – it
was clear and sunny at that time. We stopped at Jerusalem and visited the
impressive little Catholic church there, before hitting some really bad gravel
road on the way up to Pipiriki. We got to Pipiriki at 10, in time for our
jetboat trip – we were the only customers, so we had a personal tour with Ken,
our guide and the guy who runs the Whanganui River Adventure company.

We got in the jetboat and shot up the river. The
strong wind blast was unsettling (for Ian – Sandie and Maggi thought it was great)
but the scenery was fantastic, especially when we got into smooth water and
seemed to glide up on a mirror reflection between the canyon walls. We reached
the landing point and did the 40 minute hike up to the Bridge to Nowhere – a
massive abandoned concrete structure spanning a side-gorge with nothing but
jungle and rough tracks either side. We had lunch there in the sun, though it
clouded over while we were there and the afternoon was mostly cloudy but still
fairly warm.

We returned to the jetboat and went back down
the river to a sandbank where we picked up canoes. Sandie and I had a Canadian
canoe and Maggi was on her own in a kayak. We had 10 kilometres to paddle back,
including five sets of rapids. We got through the rapids OK, although at the
worst one we dragged the canoes over rocks rather than chance ourselves in the
maelstrom. At the last two rapids we got turned around, but we survived. Between
rapids it was pleasant to drift along, with the river pretty much to ourselves.
After returning to base we changed and drove home, getting back quite late after
an interesting and exciting weekend.

 

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