After I made my way to Palmerston North I finally met up with Anthony & Fiona – my very first trail angels! After coming across their blog during my research and preparation the two provided me with their trail notes and other useful information as well as the offer to stay with them for a couple of days when I pass through Palmerston North. And after they followed my blog for the last three month they also wanted to meet me in person finally. And how great it was to finally meet! Anthony and I had a few coffees in town and I tried to find new shoes . I think I found the right pair for the North Island now. Still light and minimalistic but a little bit more cushion and a stronger sole for the road walkings. Unfortunately they did not have my size available in Palmerston – so now I am getting a very special right on the spot delivery from Auckland. You will hear later about the courier… ?
The rest of the day I spent with Anthony, Fiona and their flatmate Richard. What a great evening. Thanks for hosting and feeding me. I carved my name into the TA-bench next to Ben’s, who was also here:

Next morning I left early and took the bus to Taumarunui. From here I will take a canoe down the Whanganui River. This is officially part of the TA – I only have to do this part southbound since I don’t feel like paddling upstream ?
Therefore I do have to improvise a little bit: taking a bus up the stretch from Whanganui up to Taumarunui, paddling the same way down again, then getting a ride back and continue the trail with the Tongario National Park in the “normal” NOBO direction.
And when I arrived in Taumarunui guess who was awaiting me – little Katie with a special sign to welcome me at the bus station:

We used the rest of the day to catch up from the last weeks and preparing for the next day with the canoe company and food shopping. It’s so great to have you back and to do the Whanganui section with you! Katie decided to do sections of the TA on the North Island.
Next day we left early for breakfast and came across this. It’s fall here…

We met up with the canoe company which provided the canoe and would pick us up again at the end of the journey. After a quick safety briefing we started our journey.

Still dry…

We stored all of our equipment in waterproof barrels which we secured with straps on the boat in case we would capsize. The weather was still fine and a Dutch couple, Iris and Niek, also did the tour at the same time.
The Whanganui makes its way through gorges and thick forest. We started and got a first feeling for our new home. The strongest one in the back being in charge of steering.

And the light one in front:

We also came across waterfalls:

We also managed to go through the first rapids. But then in this one rapid after lunch break we somehow ended up between two rapids flowing together forming bigger waves and our canoe started rocking until we flipped and fell out of the boat. This all happened real quickly. Fortunately the water was not really cold and also the sun was shining. So we drifted down out of the rapid and pulled the canoe into shallower waters and finally on shore. Emptied the water out of the canoe and went back on the river. It was actually quiet fun ?

It was only this evening when we discovered that we did not approach the rapids in the optimal “inverted V”. But I guess that was a quick learning for he next days.

Pitched our tent and went to bed early.