Day 7 – Raetea Forest

Takahue Saddle to Mangamuka

18kms

Total 154kms

The Raetea lived up to its reputation. But nothing can prepare you for it. It took us 12 hours to get through it. That’s one hour for ever 1.5kms. It was six hours to the summit and I had read that it takes longer to get out so we only stopped for 10 minutes for lunch and quickly admired the view at 744m above sea level. I could see 90 mile beach from there. The muddy trail was relentless and at times it was easy to lose the trail due to fallen trees. And we did at one point. It turns out (after talking to a local afterwards) it was the same spot a solo hiker got lost recently and needed to be rescued. There was about 2kms towards the end that openned up to an old 4wd track but then it ended and we were back in the mud again. We both fell over several times and one slip resulted in a broken hiking pole. Someone’s broken hiking pole was attached to a stile and at another point someone had left their ankle gaiters hanging on a branch. I joked to dad that they must be offerings to the mud gods. A random teapot was hanging in a tree and I found a big Kauri snail along the way too.

We were both exhausted when we came out at a farm house. There were six very noisy dogs. They were all chained up and we were warned not to get too close by the farmer who came out of his house.

Only 1km down the road we found the basic campsite which has been set up by the landowner. It had a long drop toilet, bbq table and a beautiful stream to wash in and refill our water bottles. It felt great to have a wash in the stream and get all the Raetea mud off me.

Xavier arrived an hour later as the sun was going down so was in a hurry to get set up. Jerome did not make it but we ran into him the next day.

So I dont recommend hiking Raetea to anyone. I didnt enjoy it to be honest but I did feel a great sense of achievement afterwards and earned my right of passage for the rest of the TA. I can’t imagine a day being any harder than that so now I know I can handle whatever lies ahead.

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