Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

Morning on the Rangitikei River

Another gorge on the Rangitikei River

The gorge plus Jeff the midget

Interesting shadows on our journey

Up in the hills

Up in the hills

Te Apiti Windfarm on the Woodville Saddle

Te Apiti Windfarm on the Woodville Saddle


Another lovely morning and the lads in the camps bunk room were up earlier than we were and were quiet. After breakfast they carried their kayaks to the river and undertook instruction. We had a walk along the river bank and marvelled at the height of the gorge on the eastern side and the centuries of water action that had brought the area to its present state.

The walls of the gorge resemble mud rock or clay, and the lumps of wall that fall to the gorge floor are easily broken and become very slippery when wet. It took me a while to remember that New Zealand is built on volcanoes, some of which are still active. As rivers of hot mud are a major part of what comes out of a volcano when it erupts, it should not have surprised me to find the cliff sides are as they are, and the rivers have been able to carve out the gorges and valleys.

As we were getting ready to leave a large group of school children arrived and began using the play area. Ten minutes later a van pulling a load of large inflatable boats for river rafting drove into camp. The river by the camp site was not deep and had gentle rapids below the bend. It seems this camp site is a good place to use as a base to train young people for canyon activities.

Sense told us it was time to go. Back in town next to the flying Cookie Monster was the ‘outdoor pursuit’s’ office where we had to pay our very reasonable fee for the night stay.

Today’s journey is again on the back roads, first driving into the interior and then south wards. Once more we enjoyed fabulous views as we travelled over hills and dales, (well more like young mountains), whilst looking over vast vistas or peering down into gorges and canyons, some of which were more close to Sylvia’s side of the van than she wished. We thought our road would go through a village named ‘Peep-O-Day and was disappointed when lunching way on high we realised we would have to take a gravel road down a deep descent to find the hamlet.

On we went with our up and down existence until reaching Ashhurst, just north east of Palmerston North, where we will visit tomorrow. Our next back road was east over the saddle road to Woodville which passed by the lookout point for the Wind Farm. We did not spend much time outside the van whilst gazing at the many windmills and it was not hard to realise why they had been placed on these hills. The roads today have all been sealed which was a nice surprise as we had expected a fair few miles of gravel.

We needed somewhere to stay tonight. Woodville lies where the SH2 and the SH3 meet, a junction we had turned right at on 24 March whilst travelling to Dannevirke. Just below Woodville is the Tui Brewery which had been shut when we first travelled by during the Easter Holidays. Sylvia decided that as we were back in the area, I should have the treat of a visit to the Brewery, and I must confess I was too weak to resist.

Not much further down the road was the town of Pahiatua where we found a nice camp site at the back of town. Efforts were being made to improve the camping area and this could be a very good site when completed.

Our camp host informed me the morning Brewery tour takes place at 10.30am; a time I should manage quite easily; so pleasant dreams tonight.

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