Oct 20 Day 50 Downes Hut to Wanganui 43 km 9:00-4:00 (by canoe)
Started late as we had to coordinate with the tide near Wanagnui (did not want to get to that area before early afternoon when high tide would start slackening). Cool morning and wind picked up fairly soon. Early kilometers were still interesting as we needed to read the rapids, but by mid-day we were in deep, slow water. Yesterday’s long pull started to tell on me, as my arms were very tired and we were getting little assist from the current. The landscape also was changing rapidly, from the steep cliffs and sharp turns of the early parts of the river to more gentle hills. The banks were lined with sheep pasture, even on the steep areas, often with the the farm on the other side of the river. Several times we passed small float barges with pens, clearly designed to take sheep back and forth across the river: sheep ferries. The willow trees are leafed out now and fluff like cottonwood sometimes drifts across the river. By late afternoon were were both gassed and pleasantly surprised when our endpoint arrived (a Top 10 Holiday campground). Gavin told us to leave the canoe there, so we then geared up to walk the rest of the way into town. Then Keith the camp manager came by and, with that great Kiwi generosity that always surprises me, offered to drive us in. Got settled in hostel, did long overdue laundry, then I went I search of a good pub which I found, and of course sitting there were the two French men, Leo and Remi. We spent an evening talking about New Zealand hops, craft beer in southern France, and eating excellent pub food. Wonderful but exhausting day.