It was with a resigned air I left my fabulous ‘holiday’ accommodation and stood at the trig overlooking Te Kuiti. Within a short space of time I was sitting in the Waitomo News offices, being asked by Todd all about my adventure. He even took my photo in front of the world famous ‘shearer’ statue, since Te Kuiti is the world shearing (as in sheep-shearing) capital.
Then one wrong made two rights. I was daydreaming and missed an important turnoff. 7km later I was informed I was not in fact heading to Bluff, but back to Otorohanga. Ooops! But then a speedy ride on the back of a flat-deck ute (sooo much fun!) and I was heading in the right direction.
The delay also meant I wound up pitching my tent on the lawn of Sam and Haley (and their 5 kids under 6yo!). They were very hospitable, including providing me a hot shower and beef patties and eggs for the next day – yum!
Before I knew it I was in Pureroa Forest Park. The view from Mt Pureroa is heralded as magnificent. All I can say is when you’re in a cloud, the view is less than stunning. 😦
Bog Inn Hut was the perfect place to warm up and dry out. Apart from a critter scuttling in the walls and ceilings I had the place to myself. What was with the vibrant blue mushrooms on the trail leading up to it though…?
The next day was beautiful and should have provided a great view from Mt Weraroa. Should have. The bush was about two feet taller than me, so even on tippy toes I couldn’t quite get a full peep at Lake Taupo. Oh well.
At Waihaha (which is a great name – so much better than Waiboohoo) Hut I had company. Cam and Gabby and Ken and Margo were fascinated by my Aarn Bodypack and tried it on for size. They couldn’t quite get the hang of the PacerPoles, but we all had fun laughing at the attempts!
I’m creating quite the list of things which should be banished from the bush:
- gorse (you’ve read before about my experiences with that)
- cutty-grass (my shins will celebrate if that became extinct)
- hook-grass (it’s a nightly ritual to rid my socks of the persistant barbs)
- …and now BUSH LAWYER! Ouch, grrr, get off!, sheesh, begone!
Instead of continuing for several more days in dense bush, I headed east for the three-hour exit from Waihaha Hut to SH32. This would have to be the most pleasant, pretty and downright achieveable walk into a hut I’ve encountered. Perfect for the ‘first night tramping’ for young Scouts.
A rainy afternoon dodging big trucks was only met with the bitter disappointment of Kuratau Junction’s ‘cafe’ being long-shut down and now used as a boat-storage shed. So much for a hot chocolate and toastie!
Walking the next day through two farming stations made up for it though: Moerangi and Oraukura stations sit ‘just’ northwest of Ruapehu. I say ‘just’ because it took me three hours to walk through them! They were stunning pieces of farmland.
I reached Ketetahi carpark, which is the usual ‘end’ of the Tongariro Crossing, since most people do it south-to-north. I’m a bit different and will be passing everyone, going north-to-south.
Today was a rest day in National Park – my feet were telling me I’d done a few too many big days and needed to pause. Instead of the planned sitting down reading a book day, John Williams and crew hollered from the Scout Lodge up Whakapapa and took me on a tiki-tour of the mountain. Stunning views. Rugged terrain. I can’t wait to return for a different spectacle in winter.
Wanganui, here I come. Fingers crossed for more stunning weather!