Mangaokewa Road to Pureora
We all got up at the same time and left our roadside camp at about 8am. Shaman (the Japanese lady) left first, then Xavier and then me. I caught up to Xavier just down the road because he had stopped to fill his water bottle at a stream. We walk at the same speed and continued on together. Xavier specialises in working at heights doing various jobs and only works six months of the year. He travels around hiking and rock climbing for the other half of the year while it is cold in Quebec. I would call that a good work/life balance. He is pretty happy with his lifestyle.
We had walked about 5kms when a ute was approaching and Andrea was in the passenger seat laughing and waving. She got dropped off there and walked with us until Xavier stopped for a break and I shot ahead on my own. Andrea works as a teacher at an intermediate school in Auckland. I caught up to Shaman and learnt that she just left the army in Japan after six years service and now wants to move to New Zealand.
It was all king country road walking today through sheep farms and occasionally passing shearing sheds that were in full operation. The music was pumping, dogs barking and sheep scattering around in the yards.
The metal road went on and on and it was hot from 9am onwards. There were only a few whispers of cloud and I had to cover up again. It got too hot for my neck gaiter so I laid the sunscreen on thick. The road was steadily climbing and finally at the top the view openned up to the south and there was Mt Ruapehu topped with lots of snow and Mt Tongariro next to it. I was not expecting to see snow on Ruapehu at this time of year.
I stopped at the intersection of SH30 and had some lunch in a shady spot next to a tree. Cheese and crackers. That’s my lunch most days. Xavier caught up to me here and we walked and talked another 10kms down the highway and then turned off to Pureora. He had his lunch on the corner and we fantasised about the possibility there might be a fridge with cans of coke at the information centre down the road. Xavier’s lunch was a tortilla wrap filled with cheddar cheese, chorizo sausage and grainwave chips. That’s what I’ll be getting at my next resupply in Taumarunui I think. Andrea went past again in another car. It seems she is not interested in road walking. Or maybe just not today in these conditions. I carried on by myself to the information centre about 2kms further on. I wanted to see if I could book a cabin in Pureora for the night instead of camping at the DOC campsite. I needed a shower and a place to scrub the straps on my pack. They were really starting to smell bad which transfers into my clothes. I arrived and the door was locked. There were voices around the back so I went around and there were some people working in a native plant nursery. They helped me and used their two-way radio to contact the staff who were out shuttling people. They let me in while I waited and there was a fridge! No coke but I got a bottle of V and a bottle of Gatorade. They confirmed there is no cellphone coverage at all and there wont be except for a few pockets at the top of Pureora Forest when I start the Timber Trail tomorrow. I was able to use their phone to call Katie and left her a voicemail. I also got them to send her an email to make sure she got the message. I paid my 40 dollars for the cabin. Xavier also stopped and was able to get a drink then Shaman stopped in too. They want to keep going into the Timber Trail today and find a camp spot in there. It was only about 1pm. I probably wont see them again.
My cabin has a kitchen and fridge. I had plenty of time this afternoon to get my pack scrubbed with hot soapy water and hand washed some clothes. I had lots of little chores that kept me busy all afternoon. The water pressure in the shower block was intense but very good. I plan to leave early tomorrow and see how far I can get. I will probably make up another day before getting to Taumarunui.