After an awesome summer the days are cooler with more rain. The seasons are changing.
It looks like being a long hot summer with lots of photo opportunities.
January 16th 2018. A combined event of Luang Por Chahs memorial and 100th birthday. Ajahn Kusalo spent 3 weeks in Thailand traveling to the north and to Ubon.
The morning rain did not deter an enthusiastic crowd gathered to celebrate our Kathina Season Robe offering. The main cloth offering was made by the Palmerston North group. We were blessed with sunshine for the final circumambulation of the stupa.
With the vassa as the central focus of this season we are four monks and many hats.
With the arrival of Ajahn Narado and venerable Phasuko we now have a resident sangha of 5 with several monastic visits planned. It will be a good dhamma year. The stupa refurbishment and extension is underway. The memorial garden is slowly emerging. The sauna has been repaired and improved. Ajahn Kusalo made a trip to Nth America. King Bhumibol is remembered.
Built in 1999 by Burmese craftsmen the stupa has been a focus of faith and delight. After nearly twenty years it is time for an upgrade. The entrance is being extended into a forecourt and the west side will have a reclining buddha rupa.
Aj. Kusalo in Sri Lanka
A 9 day trip including the UN Vesak conference, ordering the stupa moonstone and visiting several sacred sites. There is a short daily journal here
Twenty five years ago the Evening Post did a full page photo essay on the monastery. A recent visit from the same photographer, Phil Reid, resulted in a new version. You can view the newspaper spread here
A segment of the North Island (inset) shows the extent of the river. Camps along the way are marked as blue squares.
Cherry Grove, Taumaranui - 13th March, 2015. The crew has had its briefing and is packed and ready to go.
And away they go. There is no turning back now. It looks calm enough but there are rapids ahead and the first submerging not far away.
Breakfast in the early morning mist at Ohinepane. A big pot of porridge to start the day.
Breaking camp at Ohinepane. We are all still quite unfamiliar with our barrel storage system and it takes a long time to pack.
The day clears beautifully and the scenery is sublime.
A typical camp site with a small shelter. The stairs at right lead up to the sink and water pump. The ground is (almost) flat.
Lunch preparations at the riverside cafe. Every stop involves unloading the barrels and finding what is required - food, pots, plates, knives, etc. We got quite good at it by the end.
Venerable Aruno quietly contemplates the main flow of the river from a side inlet.
Evening tea at Mangapapa. After a hard days paddling energy is not at peak. A quiet and settled affair.
Just above Ohauora camp site is cave named after Tamatea-pōkaiwhenua a great early explorer of the Whanganui River - captain of the Tākitimu canoe.
Paddling in unison through the gorge.
Cyclone Pam mostly passed us by but we had rain on the 17th and took lunch on a small gravel beach. Large driftwood logs gave fixing points to rig a roof.
With the river rising in flood up to ten meters all camp sites are quite a climb above usual levels. This view from Mangawaiiti. All our gear had to be hauled up the hill.
The chefs hard at work.
March 19th was the new moon and Tieke Kainga Marae hosted probably the first Theravada Upostha in history on the river.
Tieke Kainga Marae.
Ajahn Sucitto doing dishes. Note the band of duck tape on his foot. This was a common medical solution during the trip.
Ajahn Kusalo passes one of many waterfalls.
A sandy beach and a lone canoe catch the edge of late afternoon sunlight .
Venerable Aruno and Pat about to enter the rapids.
The white cliffs of... this part of the river.
Yet another beautiful riverside beach with sun and views and all the makings for lunch.
Evening slowly closing in on Jerusalem, once an important fishing village. A Catholic mission was established in 1854. Poet James K. Baxter and many of his followers formed a community at Jerusalem in 1970. We camped in the gravel yard down stream.
There are no photos of us shooting the rapids. This shot is post-submersion. Get the canoe upright and empty out the water.
Thomas Downes (b. 1868) oversaw river navigation systems from 1934+ using this hut as his H.Q. It is said that he knew the full length of the Whanganui River better than any other European.
A more picturesque dunny site would be hard to find.
Piles of pasta and various bits fuel the river crew staying Downe's hut.
After 2 days in Downe's hut it is back on the river.
Arriving at Hipango Park the tide is in. The landing was rebuilt by the army in 1970 with the tiered construction to accommodate varying flood levels.
The previous photo shows the river level at the 2nd step down. As we prepare to leave the tide is now going out - in our direction!
Hoani Hipango an influential chief among Wanganui tribes in the 1800's; traveled in 1855 to England where Queen Victoria received him in private audience. During the Hauhau wars he was mortally wounded in 1865. His son Wata presented Hipango Park to the citizens of Wanganui.
The close of our last camp. Living life out of a boat and a barrel is about to end.
The tide was in when we arrived. A drop of nearly 2 meters meant carving a slot between trunk and bank. A rather muddy exit.
Our pick-up point at Aramoho where we can spread out our life on a freshly cut lawn.