17/1/16. As mentioned previously, we were a little wary of the next day’s route as we were crossing to Pipiriki in the Whanganui River valley, before heading downstream towards the town of Whanganui and the accommodation we had “booked” for the night after with Lyneke who we had met a few days earlier. Lyneke had recommended this route to avoid taking SH4 all the way and we were more than happy to follow the advice because we had read that the highway was hilly and had several very tight corners so it didn’t sound like our sort of road.
We needn’t have worried! The road from Raetihi to Pipiriki did have one or two short, stiff climbs but it was simply wonderful! The hills were largely of the downwards variety (we descended a net 450 metres by Pipiriki), the landscape was stunning and the road was almost devoid of traffic (we were passed by fewer than 10 cars in 27 km). In addition the weather was glorious but there were also large stretches of shade to keep us from overheating. It was up there with the best cycling days that we have had – the Bal ach xxxx, across the Camargue, around the Bodensee, down Strath Naver.
There were only two “downers” on a brilliant morning’s cycling. 1. Stephen was stung on the lip by a bee and it swelled up enormously (the lip, not the bee!) and 2. Stephen’s rear wheel is looking a little the worse for wear. A section of the rim is distorting and rubbing on the brake blocks on both sides at once. We need to get it looked at by a professional so hopefully there is a decent bike shop in Whanganui.
Pipiriki is where canoeing trips down the river finish and we shared a lunch stop in the shade with 5 who had just completed a 3 day “voyage”. It is also where jt boat trips start and finish so we were anticipating more traffic on tge road down the valley. Again things turned out better than two cautious accountants expected! The view was at least as lovely as that of the morning – more rugged but with the river glittering below. The downside was that, although the road was going downstream, it didn’t always go down. It frequently took off skywards up the steep sides of the valley and, as the temperature had also soared to the high 20’s/low 30’s it was a tough 17 km to the campsite at Ranana.
But what a delight the campsite was when we got there! It was down a little track towards the river and was as peaceful a spot as you can imagine. We were the only ones staying and so were spoiled for choice as to where to pitch the tent.