Day 3 of our Forgotten World Adventure trip started with another hearty breakfast in the motel dining room. Before we started the long drive home we had another adventure planned – a jet boat ride on the Wanganui River. What a wonderful experience this was – we had already had a jet boat ride previously, but for some of the other passengers it was their first time. Our guide was so knowledgeable about the local history and had a folder full of interesting photos. Wanganui River was the local highway in earlier years, and goods and people were carried up and down the river before the roads were built.
The safety briefing came next, our group was split into two, and and we were given life jackets to wear. Not that our guide was planning to tip the boat over, he told us, but a necessary safely precaution.
Once aboard, it was interesting to see that the river was a combination of smooth parts and then many rapids. Our guide drove the boat expertly around the many large boulders as big as cars in the river, carried down by glaciers, we were told.
The river banks had very interesting geology and our guide pointed out the layers of mud and limestone from when this part was previously on the ocean floor before being uplifted. And there was a huge layer of white pumice ash clearly visible on top of the cliffs from the Taupo Eruption which was the most violent eruption known in the world in the last 5000 years. The eruption plume reached 50km into the air, with areas near Lake Taupo being buried in more than 100 metres of pyroclastic flow. This scorching hot flow spread up to 90 km from the vent and covered all local features except Ruapehu. it is possible that ash from this eruption was the cause of red sunsets recorded by the Romans and Chinese at that time.
Interesting features on the river banks
The river views were beautiful, and there was abundant birdlife, flying quickly out of the way of the noisy jet boat, or quietly dabbling around the river edges. Stopping by a small stream running into the river, complete with a pretty waterfall, our guide told us the gory tale of two warring Maori tribes when the stream ran red with blood after a battle. The area seems so peaceful now.
Pretty river scenes
We had a great ride, including several “Hamilton Turns” where the boat is turned sharply around before coming to a stop. The scenery was spectacular and the abundant birdlife showed that the river was in good health. Then the other half of our group waiting on the river bank finally had their turn in jet boat. And here they come racing back.
After all that excitement we piled back into the bus and were driven to Laurens Lavender Farm for morning tea, which we enjoyed under the shady awning. Such a pretty place, so restful, and it must be a marvelous sight when all the lavender is in flower. And our bus driver Leon told us that he and his bride were married in these lovely surroundings a few years ago.
Laurens Lavender Farm
Then we settled down to the homeward journey, travelling back through National Park. Stopped at Waiouru at the rather flash public conveniences, designed to mirror the National Army Museum across the road. The public toilet in Waiouru has been recognized as the best of its kind in the country, and won its category in the 2016 Keep New Zealand Beautiful Awards.
Award winning public loos
One last stop at Taihape and then we settled down with a few nodding off in the bus, till we arrived back in Levin. What a great three days we had on our Forgotten World Adventure.