Mangatawhiri to Rangiriri

Maybe it’s the consecutive days of walking that are taking a toll, but these days were particularly taxing.

It took half a day to walk Mangatawhiri to Mercer, where I sat and finished off the pita bread, cheese, salami and hummus whilst gazing longingly at the McDonald’s sign across the highway.

After eating I did in fact cross SH1 in search of water. Ironically, the fire station tap was dry but the Muddy Waters Irish Bar kindly filled my bottles striaght from their cold-water tap. Nice one guys!

You never know what you'll come through the undergrowth with...

Just as well I refilled, because the afternoon was a scorcher. Even the wildlife wanted a ride to their next destination – see the photo. A 6km stretch along SH1 was noisy. I’m not sure why some people hork their horns as they go past me. Encouragement maybe?

The mighty Waikato River, on my 'doorstep'.

After Meremere the trail crosses the highway and follows the Waikato River. Pretty well knackered, I pitched the tent in the sun to dry as I sat in the shade to deal to my weary legs and cook dinner.

That evening was calmer than a calm thing on sedatives, the sun setting majestically as pheasants pranced around the stopbank and wood pigeons gorged themselves in the trees (until a falcon flew over, then they scarpered quick-smart). And the stars were plentiful once the sky had blackened.

Dec 27 started off hot. The trail continued to follow the river – all that water and I didn’t have enough to drink. I was parched come lunchtime, so my crackers and Marmite became a dough-like substance in my mouth, almost impossible to swallow. Yuck.

Just like me: falling apart.

Passing the carcass of a dead cow I almost missed seeing the tent-fly on the side of the overgrown track: a black Go-Lite, wet and disheveled. Did I want to shake it off and see if it was worth salvaging? And carry the extra weight? Pass.

Rangiriri seemed an awfully long time coming. The weather had closed in and I was getting wet. My feet and shins were aching. I was hot and thirsty. <sigh>

Playing ‘Frogger’ to cross SH1 – it was that busy with holiday traffic – I managed to find the Rangiriri tearooms. An iced tea and frozen sorbet never tasted so good, and the refill of the water bottles didn’t last long either. Heaven. And then I realised… the track notes mentioned the accommodation available at the pub next door. A bed and shower with breakfast included? Yes please!

Before you could say “I hate picking grass-seed out of my socks” my single room looked like a Chinese laundry, with tent drying and clothes washed in the shower hanging up. I was crashed out on a couch in the common room watching TV when John – a local truck driver who rents a room – appeared and we got to chatting…

He couldn’t comprehend why I’d want to walk Te Araroa and I thought he was nuts for completing multiple Sydney-to-Hobart ocean races. We called it a tie.

He also spoke of a Frenchman who several months earlier arrived at the hotel, complaining he had lost his tent that day, having had it tied to his pack as he walked to dry it out. This must have been the one I saw today! Why didn’t he just retrace his steps to find it, I wonder?

Gone in 60-seconds (almost)

On John’s recommendation I splashed out and dined in the hotel restuarant. I don’t think I’ve ever demolished a plate of delicious steak, potato and vegetables so quickly. I was h-u-n-g-r-y.

May I never under-appreciate the simple pleasure of a comfortable bed and nice pillow ever again.

About Stuart Fleming

Just a guy who likes to walk and write.
This entry was posted in Te Araroa and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Mangatawhiri to Rangiriri

  1. Jo Gillespie says:

    Nothing worse than blogging when no-one comments. I’m feeling for you, Stuart. But I also know that in five years, all this suffering (thirst, heat, sore shins, blisters, etc etc) will just be a memory for you – a memory which makes you smile from ear to ear whenever you call it up, a memory which will be a dinner ticket for years to come, a memory to share with friends, family and strangers, a memory which will set you apart from the rest of us mere mortals who think that a four km walk around the block (twice, mind you!) counts as a “good walk”.
    Keep putting one foot (gently) in front of the other, and smile through the pain, because you’re living your adventure, my friend.
    And do not despair…we ARE reading your blog!

    • Hehehe… I have an image of me as a wrinkly old fella with missing teeth and wild white hair, regaling eye-rolling youngsters about “the summer when I went for a wee walk”. Thanks Jo – your comments and across-the-globe hugs are greatly appreciated 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s