3:00 am. I lay awake last night listening to the rain and the thunder. It wasn't the storm keeping me awake but the fact that I had to go to the toilet. And no, it wasn't the thought of getting out of my warm sleeping bag, putting on my raincoat and heading out to the drop toilet that was making me lie there...it was, as much as I hate to admit it, the thought of getting back up the ladder that was pinning me to the bunk. Getting down was easy but I was having a little trouble mastering the left butt cheek turn required to land on the edge of the bunk and not plummet to my doom to the floor below. I had already had several coaching sessions from various members of our walking party on the best way to deliver my self safely to the sleeping platform and the left butt cheek manoeuvre was definitely the most successful except when said cheek missed said platform entirely and I flayed around awkwardly trying to stop falling off the ladder.
3:25 no good must pee.
Down, coat on, out, etc., back to hut, ladder... deep breath, right foot, left foot, swing butt to left, sit on edge - damn it! Nothing below left but cheek except yawning chasm! Hang on while remaining foot slips alarmingly on ladder rung! Launch myself with super human effort, accompanied by loud guttural noise that would make any tennis pro proud! Contact! 'Made it' I say to Pete. 'You getting up to go to toilet? ' he says.
My bunk battles happened on our last night of the Lake Waikaremoana walk - 3rd day in, before walking up to Bald Knob in the morning and then down from the Panekiri Bluff to where the bus would collect us for the Rotorua return trip.
From Waitarere Beach we had travelled up to Ohakune to Canoe Safaris who took us down the Whanganui - 4 days of paddling, steep gorges, many (very cute) feral goats, pretty waterfalls, ancient waterways and a few rapids just to keep things interesting! Off to Rotorua for the night before being collected by the Walking Legends boys who were looking after us along the Lake Waikaremoana track. The Lake Waikaremoana track was stunning - beautiful lake vistas and surreal forests. Do them both!
The Whanganui is an old river (you can feel it). It is a class 2 river in terms of rapids which means it is suitable for beginner/intermediate. We certainly didn't find it too scary (but we did have awesome teachers). It was mostly easy paddling, with plenty of time to just let the current carry us and enjoy the sunshine and the birds. We had some rain on the third night and the river was heavy and harder work after that. Don't forget at 50:50 (the wave) keep to the right side of the wave and then lean into the eddy as you come out. Last rapid before Pipriki head far right and don't turn left into the rapid until last minute.
On the third day at Lake Waikaremoana, after a fairly steep climb up Panekiri Bluff, you enter a cloud forest. There is no way you can convince me that this forest was not a unified entity that had its own pulse. I loved it.
Guides. We had the most amazing, patient, knowledgable, encouraging, funny, passionate, kind guides on both our trips. They were awesome. I wish I could distill them and give people a good dose of what they bring to the world- the world would be a better place.