Update 11: The Tararua Mountains

Day 54: (December 28th) 21.0mi/33. 7km Palmerston Nth to Tokomaru River

Today we start the section with the Tararua mountains, but today is mostly an easy approach through the foothills. We have a nice breakfast with Zigzag, and it’s hard to remember the last time I had such a nice meal – eggs, bacon, oatmeal, toast, juice! Hw gives us a ride back to the trail, and we say our goodbyes. Time to roadwalk!

A few hours later, we pass a “halfway done” sign along the dirt road.

It’s a beautiful morning to walk, and I’m enjoying these easy miles. After a great lunch break (we found a picnic table!), some more roadwalking brought us to a swimming hole. Perfect!

The last hour is on a nice trail, and I setup camp by a river, and join 6 other hikers who are already there.

Day 55: (December 29th) 17.0mi/27.4km Tokomaru River to Makahika Outdoor Center

I get up at 6am, and coincidentally leave the same time as French couple, so we hike together for a couple of hours. The trail crosses many small streams, so we get our wet feet for the day.

I take a break to have a snack, and Achille catches up to me. We walk together for the day, and enter the Tararua Forest!

It’s not mountainous or muddy yet, but that comes tomorrow. Today is a nice trail in a dense forest.

Since it’s so dense, we take a lunch break on the trail!

There are some views from an opening in the trees, and then we descend down to the Makahika River.

There is limited camping options in this area, and most hikers stay at the Makahika outdoor center, courtesy of John & Sally! There are showers, toilets, wifi, & a cooking tent!

Day 56: (December 30th) 10.6mi/17.0km Makahika Outdoor Center to Te Matawai Hut

Knowing today would be a slow day, I got an early start at 6:30am. It’s only 17km, but on a muddy trail with 800m of elevation gain. I walk the hour roadwalk to the trailhead, using my umbrella briefly for some light rain.

The walk starts nicely in a cow field, then enters the forest.

After 40 minutes, I cross a suspension bridge and climb UP UP UP!

It’s lightly raining the whole time, so I use my umbrella… such a nice piece of gear to have!

It’s cold & foggy up on the ridge, so I keep moving.

I get to the hut at 1pm, and decide to stay. The next hut is 3 hours away, and will probably already be full, so I decide to stay here. Other hikers arrive and we build a fire in the woodstove to warm up & dry out. Nice!

Day 57: (December 31st) 12.5mi/20.2km Te Matawai Hut to Waitewaewae Hut

I get up at 5:15am, and hit the trail at 5:50am. I expect today to be 2km per hour pace, so 10+ hours of hiking.

It’s cold and thick fog & must, and I push hard up the hill to get warm. No umbrella today… too windy.

I get to Dracophyllum hut at 9:30am and take a nice break, Paul is already there making hot tea.

I depart at 10am, and it’s still cold and wet. Ugh. I hike nonstop until I reach Nichols hut at 1pm, since hiking is the only way to stay warm.

I have lunch in the hut, then continue on over Mt Crawford summit (1557m).

Its no longer raining, but still cold & foggy.

I descend off the ridge, and get below treeline. It gets warmer as I descend, and by 6pm I’m crossing the swingbridge that leads to Waitewaewae Hut.

It’s a very large modern hut. I’m so happy to be warm, dry, and sitting down. This was the hardest day of the Te Araroa so far!

I try to stay awake until midnight for New Year’s, but I fall asleep by 10pm.

Happy New Year 2019!

Day 58: (January 1st) 14.4mi/23.2km Waitewaewae hut to Mangaone carpark

I must’ve been tired, I sleep until 7am. I get hiking at 7:30, and the first 6km takes me 3 hours! So many fallen trees, mud, and pointless little 10m ups/downs.

Then it joins a nice path, which appears to be an old railroad grade.

I cruise until lunch, and stop by the Otaki river to eat & dry my tent (yes, wet from 3 days ago).

There is a 700m climb after lunch, up to the summit of Mt Pukeatea. The trail is nice, the weather is nice, and the climb is gradual!

The summit has views of the ocean!

I leave the summit at 4pm, since I’m trying to make it to the end of the forest tonight. The last 4km has sadly been logged, so it’s a landscape of stumps and hot sun.

I get to the trailhead carpark at 6pm, and eventually find a spot to camp. No one else arrives, and it’s a rare event to camp by myself. Glad to have the mountains and muddy forest done!

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