Day 60 – Whakapapa to Retaruke

Date: 24 November
Trail covered: 30.2km (kms 1130.8 to 1161.0)
Weather: hot again

Good morning Whakapapa!

Another beautiful day in the village. Hardly surprising, the forecast shows no rain for what seems like forever. It wasn’t too hard to get out of bed at 6am today. My legs didnt hurt too much. I even had breakfast in the dining room and got back to the cabin before anyone else was out of bed.

On our way

None of us were really sure what we were in for today. With the apparent multitude of tracks in the area, it could be anything.

Which way??

There’s always time for one more picture of a mountain. There was a kind of a haze in the air today. The mountains were not as clear and stunning as they were yesterday.

The first interesting thing we came to was something called the Golden Rapids.

Golden Rapids information

It was cool, but when I tried to photograph it, it just looks like diarrhea.

Not my best picture taking

It was a really rough stream, which is also hard to show in a photo.

Another not good picture taking attempt

The landscape soon changed to this. This sort of landscape is what we would be walking through all the way from Whakapapa to National Park Village, some 20km away (well this and 7 or 8km of State Highway 47).

A nice boardwalk through the tussock

This was a really beautiful path and there was a view of Mt. Ruapehu at all times.

Hazy Mt. Ruapehu

And some more fast-flowing streams.

There was a little bit of bush section.

Today was almost entirely downhill except there was a fair bit of uphill in this section and I really felt my legs when going uphill, after doing the Tongariro Crossing yesterday. Lucky I had a lightish pack now. Must be because my food is running out… or have I left something behind at the holiday park?

One of the more muddy sections

There was a little bit of mud but not a lot. There were also these signs, which were quite random. They seemed to be names of ski runs, but I’m fairly sure that at least as long as I’ve been alive, they have never had skiing or snowboarding this far down Ruapehu.

“The Chute”

I still thought the signs were neat though.

“Slippery Gully”

I was out in front at first today for some reason. I think the others were taking it a bit slower because there was no real rush today. I managed to get Alex in some pictures which I don’t normally get to do because he is usually so far ahead.

And Charlie is busy doing some kind of dance…

We don’t have a campsite planned tonight. There is a 50 or 55km section between National Park Village where there just doesn’t seem to be any information on where to stay. And even the fit guys I’m with won’t be walking that far. So we have to just see what happens.

There was a real rocky bit…

And then this real beautiful bit. Walking down this boardwalk was amazing.

This bridge was quite neat too, although it was very wobbly for something that doesn’t look like your usual suspension bridge.

Peter and Alex soon passed me. And Charlie told Ethan a story about how he nearly got a torn scrotum when he was 15. Long story short, he was trying to jump a fence and *almost* tore his scrotum but what he did get were 15 stitches in his leg.

Here’s another view I thought was nice

It had been a nice trail so far, made even nicer by the fact we would be getting a good lunch at National Park. However, when we reached this intersection we had to turn off the boardwalk and the trail got a lot rougher.

Mangahuia Campground / Highway 47 – 2hr 45min

I thought to myself I bet it’s muddy from here. It didn’t look too bad at first, just a bit of mud again.

But it was deceiving – there was mud under the tussock where you didn’t expect it and I managed to slip twice in five minutes and so I took it a bit more carefully after that.

We came to something called the Hauhungatahi Wilderness Area. These signs had obviously been here a while, because of the state of them but also because the distance to the campsite is given in miles.

“Because of the wilderness status there are no marked tracks to follow in this region”

I don’t know what gave me this massive scratch along this section but something did.

I don’t know what did that…

We still had a lot of elevation to go down. Whakapapa is at 1100m up and the Whanganui River is down at about 100m so we have a lot of descending to do over today and tomorrow. Here was one particularly steep but beautiful bit:

A nice but steep downhill

11am rolled around and it was time for a rest and a snack break.

11am – lots of cheese and crackers were consumed here.

This path went on for quite a while, alternating between easy bush walk and muddy pathway but eventually came out at Mangahuia Campsite and then shortly after State Highway 47. I thought the yellow sign reminding you to drive on the left was interesting. I’d never seen that sign before.

Drive on the left, at 100km/h

And then there was this sign too which was cool. Someone has attempted to draw skis on the kiwi. A “skiwi”, if you will.

And there’s a geocache on the back of this sign too.

State Highway 47 is a very straight road where cars drive fast because there are no obstacles and very few corners. I did see this glove on a marker post. Maybe a hiker got fed up with the cars zooming past.

Flippin’ the bird

Not long before the multitude of signs welcome you to National Park.

It doesn’t look like it but suddenly there are a lot of signs!

This is the last bit of civilization before the river journey, so we had to visit the Four Square. But first, Schnapps bar slash restaurant for lunch. It had a large kiwi right outside.

And a very bedraggled guy next to it…

I’m wearing my backup shirt today because we did laundry at Whakapapa Holiday Park. By this point I remembered why I don’t usually wear it, and that’s because when it gets sweaty it smells like wet wool which isn’t a smell I like. This shirt is 100% merino wool as opposed to the blue icebreaker one I nornally wear which is a merino blend.

At Schnapps I got an apple cider, nachos and again another gigantic dessert – this time sticky toffee pudding.

I only seem to take photos of the dessert for some reason.

We also made sure to get any internet or phone stuff done while here. Once past here, our understanding is that there is no more phone coverage until Whanganui, seven days or so from here.

Once that was done, we headed on over to the Four Square back past the kiwi…

And people bought what food they needed to. I didn’t know this Four Square was here so I did all my food shopping in Taumarunui. All I got here was cheese, apples and strawberries to eat today, and some chocolate that was definitely milk chocolate and not dark.

Last shop of any reasonable size until Whanganui…

We were soon on our way again, through the streets of National Park.

That didn’t take long, as this village only has four or five streets! I was hurting though. I had eaten so much st lunch that everything hurt and I was feeling a little bit sick. So was everyone, I think.

It was then up a gravel road into the Erua Forest.

Yep, the sign confirms it

It was a standard gravel road at first…

But the views got better as time went on and we got to the top of the hill and started descending again.

We ended up at a big fence.

It looks like there is a dispute between hunters and the landowner. The large gate is clearly there to keep people out, but somebody has scrawled “this is a public road, the lock will be coming off” onto the “security cameras” sign. And then next to it were these signs about illegal poaching.

Well at least it isn’t the hikers causing any problems. The view of the forest was really nice here.

Erua Forest

Time for a panorama, methinks.

We had some discussions about how much further we wanted to walk. Ethan suggested another 20km to a spot where he had read people can camp, but the rest of the group seemed against that idea as it was too far and we’d get in too late. And I was very uncomfortable because of the sheer volume of food I ate at National Park.

Another view

So around this point we started looking for suitable places to camp. It means a 42km mostly road walking day tomorrow, but we’d rather camp here than on the side of a road.

We set up camp in technically what seems to be the middle of a 4WD track, but Ethan had inspected the ruts and none of them looked fresh so we thought we’d be okay. We set up our poles in the shape of crosses so if by some chance any quad bikes did come past, they wouldn’t plow straight into us.

It was very much an impromptu campsite. It was not the best or flattest spot but we couldn’t find much better in this area that was near water. And the cellphone coverage definitely had ended by now.

Charlie and Peter set up their tent without the tent fly on. And so I thought, why not, I’ll do that too. So no tent fly on my tent tonight. I can lie here and look up at the stars. There was not a chance in hell of any rain but this could make it quite cold. Still, I’m keen to see how it goes.

There were flies everywhere at this spot which was quite unpleasant, and the buzzing they make when they fly around is so loud. But as the sun went down, the sound of flies buzzing turned into the sound of birdsong and then as the sun went right down, that changed again into the sound of the morepork. Much better.

Today's walk on the map (blue = Te Araroa, red = today's walk):

6 thoughts on “Day 60 – Whakapapa to Retaruke

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