Day 38: (December 12th) 16.6mi/26.6km Taumarunui to start of 42 Traverse
I wake up early, even though it’s a short day. Andrea, Franzi and I are slackpacking the 20km road section from town to the start of the forest, then hitchhiking back to town and staying at the same holiday park.
It’s an uneventful 3.5 hour walk, with lots of nice countryside views.
We quickly get a hitch back, and I do my town errands. Pharmacy (sandfly bites itch!), general store, outdoor store, i-site, and post office. We have all the food packed up for our can trip next week. This is 8 people’s food.
Somehow, I manage to eat an entire rotisserie chicken and garlic bread loaf for dinner. Hiker hunger!
Day 39: (December 13th) 12.2mi/19.7km Start of 42 Traverse to mid 42 Traverse
I have a short day planned, so even though I’m up at the usual time, I don’t depart until 11am. Unfortunately, it takes me an hour to get a hitch back to the point I left off yesterday. Finally, a nice real estate woman named Jo picks me up, and we have a nice chat.
I start on the trail at 1pm, and it’s a nice 4wd road!
The weather is a weird mix of sunny, then thunder/sprinkles.
I hike until I find a flat spot to camp, and at 6:30 I find a nice spot a short distance from the trail. I hear thunder in the distance, so I setup quickly… 20 minutes after I get into my sleeping bag, it rains. Perfect timing!
Day 40: (December 14th) 11.4mi/18.3km Mid 42 Traverse to Tongariro Holiday Park
It rained very hard last night, so even though I was perfectly dry in my tent, everything outside is wet. The clouds are starting to clear, and I get views of the upcoming mountains!
Then, the route leaves the 42 Traverse trail, and turns onto the Cokers track. It is much narrower and overgrown, and all the plants are wet. Ugh. Finally I join another 4wd road, and it’s wide.
The trail emerges at a highway near an old battle fort, which is a cool historic spot.
There’s a short road walk to the Tongariro holiday park, and I arrive at noon.
It rains on/off throughout the afternoon, but I’m dry inside. And there’s a cool rainbow at sunset to end the day!
Day 41: (December 15th) 5.4mi/8.7km Tongariro Holiday Park to Tongariro carpark
Today is a planned short day, since the weather looks to be much better for the Tongariro crossing tomorrow. It’s a high elevation alpine crossing, so rain or high winds would make it miserable and/or dangerous.
We dry our tents, then pack up at 9:30 and hitch to the nearby town of National Park, to kill some time. Andrea and I buy some food, do some shopping, then hitch back. I hang out with Ruben & Amanda at the holiday park, then do my short roadwalk to the trailhead.
I arrive at 7pm, and there is a sketchy van hanging out in the parking lot, so I hike into the forest a km or two.
Perfect camping spot!
Day 42: (December 16th) 15.8mi/25.4km Tongariro carpark to Whakapapa Village
I’m super excited about today, so I get up at 5:30am, and while I’m packing up, Franzi stops by!
We hike up the hill together, taking a short break at a view spot with a bench.
It’s a long gradual climb up to the craters, and we take another break at Blue Lake.
We continue on up to Red crater, passing hundreds of tourists going the opposite direction. Yikes.
I take a quick stop at the “mordor” toilets, then have a quick climb up Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom), so I can destroy the one ring.
I do some fun scree-surfing on the way down, and I catch Franzi after I return from Mt doom. It turns out she had climbed the wrong mountain! Oops.
We walk the rest of the way to Whakapapa village, seeing almost no one along the way. We grab the last 2 bunks, and I enjoy some nice bar food and a nice sunset. Big day!
Day 43: (December 17th) 12.2mi/19.8km Whakapapa Village to National Park
It’s another short day today, since our canoe trip date is set for the 20th, and it’s not a far distance. After a leisurely breakfast, I pack up and leave at 10:30am. The trail starts off as an easy tourist trail, then it becomes a rutted and slightly overgrown mess.
At least there are boardwalks for the marshy bits!
The trail ends at a paved road, which has a funny sign. Must have too many problems with bad tourist drivers?
I walk an hour on the road, and get to National Park village at 3pm. The first thing to do, of course, is share an ice cream break with Achille. Then I setup my tent at the YHA hostel, and meet Paul for dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Day 44: (December 18th) 17.3mi/27.7km National Park to War Memorial
These short days are nice, I slept in until 7:30, and lounged around at a coffee shop reading a book until 9:30am. I hike out of town, and it’s a beautiful day. This section is on the “mountains to sea” bike trail, and it’s smooth walking.
I catch up with Achille at lunch, along with a czech couple, Kačka and Kuba.
We all head to the only legal camp spot, at a roadside war memorial.
There are 12 of us camped here tonight, big group!
Day 45: (December 19th) 15.4mi/24.8km War Memorial to Whakahoro campsite
I get up early, since the forecast is for afternoon rain. I walk alone for an hour, then catch up to Andrea and Paul. It starts to sprinkle a bit, this umbrella really is worth the weight!
I stop for a quick early lunch break, and also make a “1200”km sign, since one doesn’t already exist!
I get to the” town” of Whakahoro at 11:30am, it’s quite small!
I head to the Blue Duck Cafe for lunch, then go to the hut to get setup in a bunk. Some people decide to camp.
We meet the canoe company folks tomorrow morning at 10am, and they will give us gear, information, and advice. I can’t wait for 5 days of paddling, and my feet are even more excited!