Te Kuiti to Mangaokewa Road
After the best sleep i’ve had in years I woke up feeling totally refreshed and keen to get going. I sorted out my bits and pieces and said goodbye to Sue. I went to New World and picked up supplies for the next few days and a selection of fruit and a muffin for breakfast. On the way through town I stopped at a cafe for a long black then a outdoors shop for a new gas canister and finally the DOC office to get a hut pass which I will need in a few days. There are no shops until I get to Taumarunui.
I headed south out of town passing the shearing statue and numerous memorials and giant photographs of Sir Colin Meads. I got onto a track that followed the Mangaokewa river for 18kms. The first few kms were nice with well groomed track. The rest was nice but not groomed. A lot of the time I was pushing through gorse, black berry bushes and navigating around or over muddy sections. There were some big fallen trees right over the track that were fun to get over and sometimes under. There were a few steep slopes to sidle across and some dodgy cliff edges that required full concentration. The scenery was beautiful and there were some nice picnic spots along the way.
Last night a lady called Andrea arrived at the homestay. She is doing sections of the TA. Today I caught up with Jesse from Hamilton who I met in Waitomo and Joshua from Melbourne who I met in a forest track before Waitomo. Then there was a new Xavier from Quebec and a Danny from somewhere. There was a Caroline who was waiting for her husband who left his hat behind a few kms back. Then I met a couple called Nick and Dani. All doing this section of the trail today. Funny how it goes on the trail.
I spent a bit of time walking and talking with Joshua and Jesse at different stages. Joshua quit his job as an aviation engineer to walk the Appalacian trail in the USA and now the TA. He plans to change his career to researching renewable energy. He’s about the same age as me. Nice guy and interesting to talk to. I had lots to ask him about renewable energy. Jesse works for the regional council in Hamilton as their IT guy. He is doing the TA in bits and skipped from Whangarei to Hamilton. He does plan to continue all the way to Bluff. Xavier has long dread locks that he started when he came to NZ for a trip six years ago. He will cut them off when he us finished.
I came out of the track into farmland and had to cross through two paddocks full of bulls. I stuck close to the fence as they stared me down the whole way and I unbuckled my straps so I could drop my bag and jump the fence quickly. I heard yesterday about hikers getting charged by bulls in this area. I was on my own at this stage and soon after I arrived at the campsite and shelter I had planned to stay at. It is a small shelter with tank water and a clothes line with space for several tents. The landowner has set it up and asks for a 5 dollar fee into the honesty box. I was there by 3pm. Xavier and Danny had just got there and were planning to continue and hope to find a spot to camp on the side of the road. I thought about the 36km road walk ahead of me tomorrow and decided it was a good idea to push on today. Also there was no reception all day and I wanted to find some so I could text Katie and let her know I was fine. I had been told it was only the Pureora forest that I would not have reception. They carried on and I had some food and refilled my water bottles. I checked my GPS application and could see the next water supply was a stream that was accessible under a bridge 12kms away and that someone has camped on the side of the road just before it. I felt like I had enough energy to go for another few hours and reached my new target by 6.30pm. It was hard work though and of coarse it was mostly uphill. I had four litres of water and six days worth of food in my pack. More than I’m used to. Xavier and Danny were sitting on the bridge. Danny decided to keep going and Xavier and I set up camp for the night. There have only been three cars since I got on this road six hours ago. We are a long way from anywhere. Just as we were starting to relax another TA hiker turned up. I can’t remember her name. An Asian lady who I saw when I was leaving Te Kuiti. She has set up camp here for the night too and I think she was relieved to find us and feel safe to stop for the day.