Day 29: (December 3rd) 9.8mi/15.7km Hamilton CBD to Whatawhata/Backyard Bar
I get up at 7am in the hostel, and go and get the free breakfast in the kitchen. I have a relaxing morning with toast, juice and cereal, and update my blog. I leave at noon, and get my new shoes from the post office.
Then I walk to burger King and get a milkshake and lunch, and wait out the heavy rains. Amanda texts me at 2pm, and I leave to catch up to her and Ruben (we caught up to Ruben!). Of course there’s a roadwalk, and then a nice stroll thru an arboretum.
Unfortunately, the next 2km is thru an overgrown farm field, and it starts raining heavily. It’s a total carwash.
Knowing I am heading to camp at (yet another) bar, I push on to get indoors sooner. I get to the Backyard Bar at 6pm, and Amanda and Ruben show up a little later, along with a Czech guy named Tomas.
It’s raining hard, so Roger (the owner) let’s us camp indoors. Perfect!
Day 30: (December 4th) 19.9mi/32.0km Whatawhata/Backyard Bar to Pirongia Hut
We get up before 7am, and then watch as another heavy band of rain comes at 7am. We wait it out, and head out before 8am in a light rain. It’s easy paved roadwalking, and my umbrella is doing a great job!
The road changes to dirt, then deteriorates to a sheep track.
We follow this slippery wet track for a couple of hours thru farmland, then take a break on a bridge for lunch.
The rain has stopped, and there’s even some sun! The next roadwalk is easy, and then the big climb up Pirongia mountain starts off easy.
It’s a 900m climb, and it’s much colder at the top! I keep moving the last few km to the hut, the first hut of the trail! So exciting, I finally get to use my $90 hut pass.
We hit 800km today!
Day 31: (December 5th) 20.7mi/33.3km Pirongia Hut to Airstrip
I get up at 6:30am, and Paul and I pack up and leave around the same time. Tomáš, Amanda, and Ruben are just behind. It’s very cold & windy up at 950m elevation, so I hike in my fleece & beanie for the first couple hours.
The trail descends back to a low elevation, but it’s really muddy, so very slow going. Like 2km per hour! I was so happy to see a road!
I catch Paul on the road, and we stop for a lunch break shortly after. The afternoon is mostly walking thru farmland, and it’s a decent track.
At 6pm, we get to a flat spot just after an airstrip, and setup camp.
Day 32: (December 6th) 19.5mi/31.5km Airstrip to Te Kuiti
Paul & I wake early, before 6am, and pack up quickly before it starts to rain.
Which it does rain, about an hour later. We walk a wet forest and farm track a morning, and keep moving to stay warm.
We get to Waitomo, and have a lunch break, at a proper picnic table! Good stuff.
The afternoon is more farm track walking, but it’s mostly nice farm track.
At the end, there is a short roadwalk into Te Kuiti, and we get to the New World grocery store at 4pm.
Strange chip flavors.
We do a quick resupply, and call our hostel to get a ride. Andrea is there, along with some new faces – Nathan (US), Franzi (Germany), and a NOBO hiker named Wako (Japan).
Day 33: (December 7th) 12.6mi/20.3km Te Kuiti to Mangaokewa Road campsite
Everyone woke up at 6:15am, since we had to be ready by 7:30to get a ride into town. It’s a cold morning, so Andrea, Franzi and I stop at the New world first for some hot drinks.
Upon walking out of town, we see that Te Kuiti is the sheep-shearing capital of NZ! Cool.
The hiking starts off on a nice forest track, but after an hour it becomes a little muddy & slow. At least our lunch spot is nice – a picnic table by a river!
The trail improves after lunch, and enters some farmland.
Around 5pm Franzi and I stop to join Paul (and like 10 others) at an official campsite.
It’s a nice flat spot, and even has a toilet and a cooking shelter! Early to bed tonight, tomorrow is a long 40+km day of roadwalkin!