Erin has to renew her passport and, at the same time, I get to meet the Canadian High Commission's education officer to chat about academic exchanges between Canada and New Zealand. Afterwards I get to sit with Erin over coffee and hear what she's learning about place and meaning making, the Canadians teaching at Canterbury Uni and New Zealand life so far. It is a treat to experience her enthusiasm.
Driving along the coast highway we reach the mouth of the Whanagnui and dine on vaguely Italian food in a shady bower beside the river. The Whanganui is the longest navigable river in New Zealand and its history has much in common with the upper Yukon River we know so well at home. Maori exploration, tales of founding and intermarriages securing peace and security in its watershed. Newcomer pioneers similarly used the river as an avenue for settlement and steam boats, one reconstructed and now offering short tourist runs on the lower reaches goes past us while we finish our lunch.
In the evening we are camped along the upper reaches of the river at Taumarunui (Toe-ma-ra-newy) The water is low and shines green from the surrounding vegetation. It has a faint smell of musk, possibly rising from the lush, highly varied vegetation along its banks. Tomorrow morning we will immerse ourselves in the smell, taste and history of this river.