Date: 25 November
Trail covered: 41.9km (kms 1161.0 to 1202.9)
Wow, so the two month mark is here. I’ve been out doing this for two months now. Really doesn’t feel like it. And today we just passed the 40% mark of the trail. At this rate I won’t get to Bluff until mid-March, since I will be taking a break at Christmas and I also have to take 5 days off at the end of January to attend a wedding. I’ve sped up in the last two weeks though since travelling with this group. That will help bring the time down.
Take today for instance – a 42km day. I probably wouldn’t have thought it possible a month ago. We all knew it was going to be super hot today, so I wanted to get up early and set out early.
Having no tent fly last night was great. I saw stars in the middle of the night without getting out of my sleeping bag. The outside of the tent and my stuff that was outside got a little bit wet with condensation but not much, and the super hot day forecast would take care of that later.
The first bit was continuing down what was officially a public road, but the grass was very long – it would be hard for any sort of vehicle to get through here. But there’s a house here. Does anyone live here? How would people drive to it?
Walking through the long grass in the early morning got my boots and socks wet – and there was no avoiding it.
The grass only lasted 20 minutes or so. It was road walking for the rest of the day. A very long day of road walking. I tried to set goals for myself to keep it interesting. I had walked 2.5km at 8am. So let’s aim for 8.5km at 9am, and 14.5km at 10am. Then I would get to the war monument by 10.30am to dry stuff and have lunch. The war monument is the only landmark scheduled on the walk today before Whakahoro and was about 40% of the way so it seemed like a good place to stop. And it was signposted so we were unlikely to get lost.
The walk was predominantly north for the first half. It was weird having the sun on the “wrong” side.
The houses around here varied a lot. From big country estates…
With big signs…
To houses like this which look like they’re about to fall to the ground.
I managed to keep the 6km per hour I set for myself as a goal and so I got to the war memorial at 10:20. Nobody had caught up to me yet – the others turned up over the next hour. Only Alex had turned up by 11am.
The war memorial had a bit of interesting information. Apparently there used to be people making a living here. Now it’s just the middle of nowhere.
But I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t take the time to see what the significance of the horse was.
After lunch was over, this sign confirmed our fears – 24km more road walking to Whakahoro.
Lots of cotton on the sides of the road here.
The road was sealed which was a surprise. About the only vehicles that went down here were towing canoes.
The road did turn back to gravel after a few km. And the signs slowly counted down the remaining distance.
We passed a farm where they were in the process of shearing all the sheep. Like usual they all looked and when I got close they all ran away.
The sun was beating down today though, and hard. It was by far the hottest day of the trail so far. It made it just that much harder and you felt so much more exhausted. There was not a cloud in the sky all day, and there was barely any shade.
The view didn’t change much but we did come across the odd interesting natural feature.
And here is the Retaruke Hall, about 9km from Whakahoro. There are toilets on the side of the building but I didn’t check to see if they were open.
We also got passed by a big bus full of school students. Given how small the place is, I have a feeling they will be staying at the same campsite as us. And like every other vehicle that went past, it covered us in road dust.
7.2km to go now. It is 2:45pm. Is there any chance the cafe mentioned here will be open when we arrive? Hope so, but doubt it!
We just kept pushing on and on. At least the hills of the last section provided a small amount of shade.
Finally made it. The little sign below the blue Whakahoro sign if you can’t see it says “Population: 8”.
It looks like this here is the cafe. As expected, it was closed.
No wait, that’s not the cafe – this is the cafe! And with Alex and Peter outside, it must be open!
I arrived at 4:15pm and it closed at 5pm – wonderful. I managed to get iced coffee, a toasted sandwich and chocolate. We sat here until it closed as we were all so sore.
Across the road was the campsite and bunkroom. Based on all the tents around it does seem we are staying right next to the large school group. We have reserved the bunkroom.
Even in the evening it was still real stinking hot. We all sat outside to try and escape the heat from inside the hut but of course that meant we were getting attacked by bugs all evening. Ethan had an interesting idea to stop the bugs – tuck his shirt into his pants. Everyone thought it looked ridiculous.
The only thing stinking more than the heat were the toilets. You had to do all you could to not breathe while inside the toilets. Even just spending two minutes in there you felt like the smell was clinging to you when you left.
The scratch I got the other day had set in now.
After lots of bug spray we just sat around watching the kids play their sports games.
Today something else that annoyed me was this huge sticker which has been affixed to seemingly every hut, every shelter, every block of toilets, in fact every structure of any kind along the trail.
To whoever is doing this… stop it. Who the hell do you think you are defacing all the trail buildings like this. I encourage anyone who feels the same way and has an Instagram account to visit this profile right now and express your disappointment to the person responsible for this mass defacement of our trail buildings. Please report the profile for spam also. I’m going to message the owner of the profile right after this and see what she has to say.
Anyway, now that that’s out of my system, it is time to sleep. That’s not easy though, just like on Day 2 at The Bluff campsite, the kids are all playing a game with torches which illuminate the entire bunkroom when they’re shone in the windows. Unlike the other people at that campsite, which had a “kids will be kids” attitude, this group was less enthused. Charlie eventually asked them to stop with the torch and it stopped after that.
There was seemingly a lot of complaining today but then not every day on the trail is shits and giggles. Tomorrow is going to be an adventure with the start of five days on the river. I’m excited and nervous at the same time.
Today's walk on the map (blue = Te Araroa, red = today's walk):