The weather is perfect for the spectacular volcanic Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
Blissful awakens to a snow-covered Ruapehu and the storms don't hit until she's in town.
It's easy walking down with a view of the conical Mt Taranaki to the Retaruke Valley and camping.
It's a long road walk to the Blue Duck Station where canoes await at Wade's landing.
We learn to paddle rapids, repack our barrels and set off through cliffs, falls and see three bats.
From the Bridge to Nowhere, it's not far to a powhiri welcome at the Maori community, Tieke Kainga.
We paddled 3 sets of rapids including 50/50 which ejects half those who dare paddle through.
It's a day of rain and interesting cliffs to mysterious Hipango Park with oddly scattered long drops.
Good weather and good friends add up to one of the best birthdays in memory.
It's a short paddle into Whanganui where Blissful meets George and Rob, her 'guardian' trail angels.
It's road from Whanganui to Koitita beach, massive driftwood on black sand and a magical sunset.
A bit of beach walk then river cross leads through pine forest to Bulls and finally a lovely reserve.