The Adventure to nowhere. A week end in Whanganui
We are always talking about all the adventures and trips that went well where we actually did stuff and most probably with an amazing sun. Well as you might have noticed already, the rain is more often there with me than the sun but anyways!
This is kind of a funny story that reflects how much I was tired of the constant Wellington winter cloud and rain. When I say constant, for two weeks we didn’t see the sun. TWO WHOLE WEEKS! So you can imagine that during the week ends we didn’t do much either. I was really sad because I love going places, discover new small spots and everything. Taking pictures too of course.
Everybody was saying that this year we had a nice winter, that is wasn’t too windy nor too cold. I am used to the rain in Normandy and to the cold too but it does’t rain for two weeks in a row, does it? So yes, winter in Wellington is not that fun. We went to Auckland at the beginning of September and it was 15°C while in Welly it was like 7 or 10 max. SO yeah, if you don’t like the rain or the cold, don’t spend your winter in Windy Welly.
So on Friday night, when I went home after work and I saw the weather was still not going to be really nice over the week end I was like: all right, let’s go somewhere, anywhere, even if it is raining too. I just wanted to see something else.
We found a town that looked nice not too far away (2.5h) and where there seemed to be sun previsions for the Saturday. The town is called Whanganui. I looked around and there seemed to be nice hikes and one that went to a “Bridge to Nowhere”. I was like “Yeay” that seems awesome! Let’s go! We can do the hike on Saturday afternoon because it is only two hours way and back. Without having more look at it, we woke up early on the Saturday, jumped into our car that might or might not be starting and went to Whanganui.
Oh yes, I forgot to tell you about our car. The car has always been a bit funny because it has a theft proof system and you have to do specific things to start it. I never liked that car but… Anyhow, the car sometimes stops working and it is impossible to start it again for a while! Really annoying but it is our only transportation system and I was not going to let it ruin my week end.
We arrived in Whanganui around 10:30AM, we checked in the backpacker we booked for the night, we had a walk around at the market and decided to go to the tourism office. BIG MISTAKE#1. We should have gone first to the tourism office. When we asked about the hike to the bridge to nowhere, the girl told us the only way to get there was by boat… And the boats only left at 10AM… We missed the Saturday boats. We didn’t gave up and booked it for the next day, knowing it was going to rain a bit but it would still be nice.
Be careful though because the tourism office make you book with a specific company and they are not the only ones doing it. Also, it is $130 per person. $150 if there is nobody. You also might want to know that you can do one of the nine great walk to this bridge and it will cost around $200 but you will have to stay for three (or five) days.
We hanged around town for the afternoon, seeing a bit of sun. Whanganui is a really nice little town like you can see in Gilmore Girls (YES, it made me think about Gilmore Girls a lot). Old houses, everybody seems to know everybody. The city is situated around a river and there is a nice walk from one bridge to another.
They have one of the oldest elevator I have ever been in. It is really scary (for me) and you have to not be claustrophobic to get in. It is used to go up the mountain to some houses. It was built in 1916 and you have to walk in a loooong corridor to get to it. I am not sure how earthquake proof that is. If my mom would have been there she wouldn’t have go past the tunnel and would have climbed twice the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Well, I didn’t know what I would find at the end. It was a nice experience that proved me I didn’t like elevators. From up there, there is a platform where you have a really nice view over the city and the Tasman sea.
We continued walking along the river to the other bridge and saw A LOT of people in the bush next to the river. At first I thought they were like drug dealers (why else would you be there next to a river hidden by the bushes? Yes all right I am always thinking about the worse). Well they actually were fishermen and women because there is a lot of whitebaits in this river. Ahah you never head of whitebaits either? The equivalent in french would be “poissons à friture”. There is no real words for them. They are those transparent little fish where you can see their skeleton (well, what looks like a skeleton). They are very popular in New Zealand and in England but they don’t exist everywhere. You eat them in eggs apparently.
We ended up in a really nice park for children with huge castles, fairytales’ playground and a flying fox that anybody could try (do I have to tell you Alexis tried it? ahah).
After our little tour, we decided to go see the black sand beaches that were a few kilometers away. I had never seen black sand before. It is really impressive, nice and mysterious. They were also fishing the whitebaits there! We didn’t know at the time but black sand is magnetic so don’t put your phone in the sand or anywhere near it otherwise you will have trouble getting the sand off. There was another flying fox over the river that goes straight into the sea (Alexis tried it too^^).
Oh a gravel road!
There is also a botanic garden that you can visit by car (very useful when it is raining ahah) and another big garden around a big lake with a lot of ducks, pigeons, swans and other birds.
The backpacker we were in was really really nice. Very clean, even the kitchen and the common space. There is a little garden with a barbecue and picnic tables. There is chicken and lemon trees too!
The next morning, we were supposed to go on our boat-hike and we had to be there at 10AM. There was 50km to get to the starting point but the tourism office told us to leave two hours before. A bit skeptical we did though. Well, it was a great idea because the road was one of the worst roads we had ever been to. As usual it was meandering with very small space for two cars crossing. More over, sometimes there was rocks that just fell on the middle of the road. We almost had to get out of the car to move them! That said, the road was amazing in the middle of the mountains with the river in the middle. It had a look of a tropical forest somehow.
We finally arrived at the meeting point right on time but there was no other car around. When we knocked on the door, the girl seemed surprise to see us. Apparently, as it was going to “rain heavily” – not according to google, we are still wondering where she got that information – the trip had been cancelled and she called us the previous night to tell us that so we could go back to the tourism office to get a refund. Of course we didn’t get the memo…! We were quite skeptical on the weather forecast she was telling us but we couldn’t check because there was no phone reception. Anyways we spend like thirty minutes getting a refund because she really didn’t want us to get on the boats. As soon as we left the place, we went to the other boat company that is in this town (well, there is only a couple of houses in the town) and we saw some guys leaving that told us the responsible for the boat trips was going to arrive in half an hour or something. We decided to wait and they said we could wait in a little sun room. As the time went by, the rain stopped and we even saw some sun. We were really mad after the first lady who didn’t want to bring us.
It could have been great if the guy would have showed up! Unfortunately, we waited like an hour and he never came. We were in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception to call the guy, with a car that might or might not start again, under a half rain weather, with no boat driver to get to the bridge to nowhere. We decided to turn around and go back to Wellington. Hopefully the car started and we could go back on the main road.
So as you can see, sometimes it is good to be organized and to plan ahead. For once we just wanted to go somewhere and even if we saw a really nice area, I was really disappointed to not be able to get to the bridge to nowhere. I was mad at the weather because I feel like everywhere I go I have a little cloud over my head. I am also strongly thinking about getting waterproof things for my photography equipment. It is ALWAYS raining, I might as well just have it as I can’t change the weather. Anyways, we had fun and we changed our minds for the week end.
Did you ever had an adventure that went wrong like ours? I would be relieved if stuff like that didn’t only happened to us!