Whanganui River - Day 2 - National Park to Pipiriki
- Distance 63km
- Max Elevation 820m
Whanganui River - National Park to Pipiriki Ride Profile
About 6-00am the first group of enthusiastic trekkers woke us as they prepared for their departure. We languished in bed until they had all cleared out of the hostel.
When we went out to get the bikes this morning we could believe that it would be snowing on the mountains. It was freezing, so we donned all of our cold weather gear. It became even more a reality when we saw a snow plough pass us on the road. Again the wind was in our faces, but we were toasty warm and with a fairly easy flat or slightly down hill ride we got well "into the zone", flying along. The only climb of any significance was when we dropped down into the impressive Managanoiuteao River gorge with its perpendicular sides clothed in masses of tropical foliage and spanned by the old iron railway bridge, looking like a childhood Mecano model.
The downhill continued to Raetihi and we completed the last 17km in 40 minutes. Raetihi calls itself a historic town and it has seen its hay day many years ago. Today the majority of shops on the main street are closed up, as is the old cattle market. It had a sad depressed feeling about it.
From here we turned off SH 4 to take the road to Pipiriki and the Whanganui River. On the profile it looked as though the road was mainly downhill, but there were a couple of significant climbs. Once they were out of the way however, the road descended quite steeply following the valley all the way to Pipiriki. In total we had dropped about 800 m from National Park and the increase in temperature was notable.
In the late 1800s the government was trying to encourage people to settle in the area and the Whanganui River was the main form of transport, before the road was finished in 1917. Pipiriki was a thriving village and had a large hotel which served the many tourists and settlers that came up the river by steamboat. Today the village is just a few houses and the gateway into the upper Whanganui River. As such there are three different companies that offer jet boat and canoeing trips in the upper reaches.
We decided to stay for two nights on the free camping area and go for the jet boat ride up the river.
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