January 8th 2017
Possible camping – Waitomo
Total distance: 557.2 miles
The morning came around all too soon and I woke to find my tent covered in water. It wasn’t condensation so it must have rained last night. Didn’t notice a thing. We didn’t get run over in the night but it did take us a very long time to get going which seems to have become the usual pattern. We started hiking at 8:30ish with a light misty rain and grey skies ahead.
Summer, New Zealand, this is supposed to be summer. I felt like I was walking in the welsh mountains on a particularly blustery day.
We started the day on a farm track which we thought would be nice and easy but the grass soaked our dry shoes straight away, and it was super muddy which made it slow going. The mud was a bit disheartening after all the mud yesterday but thankfully it was mostly avoidable today. The track turned into farmland and we got some really beautiful views over the country. Looking back on the Pirongoa range we could see that it was in a cloud again. The weather couldn’t make up its mind and nor could we, our rain jackets were on and off several times as the rain moved in and out.
The trail goes over some steep ups and downs across the farmland and that also makes progress slow but it was so glorious all around. We come to an area that’s really overgrown with ferns and decide to take the dirt road that’s right next to it instead. There is a break in the barbed wire fence here so it seems that lots of people take the road option. We hop the fence again when the road splits and goes the other way from the trail, we start walking through a nice forest which turns into a muddy slide. I fall over a couple of times. It’s best to just let yourself fall in these situations otherwise you end up breaking something.
It’s been a long difficult morning and we haven’t gained that much ground, so we take a little break by a stream and think about what lies ahead. We cross a stream which is only ankle deep, but the trail notes say it can be a dangerous crossing and to wait it out if the weather has been bad. Thankfully we were ok and got across with no problem, which was good because I only had 5 jelly snakes left which wouldn’t be enough to wait out a stream crossing. I would have just had to swim over.
We walk down a track that’s flanked either side by gorse bushes but most of it is avoidable. It looks as though people have been through and sprayed a lot of it, which is nice. That track then turns into a beautiful forest track with giant ferns and palms and a great tread. It was such a pleasure to walk through. We saw a goat up ahead on the trail, wild goats are a thing apparently, and this one had the most beautiful horns. It didn’t hang around for long but its scent did. It was pretty potent. Julia was going fast ahead of me and I was trying to keep up, but I slowed down to take a few pictures and videos, I wanted to make the most of the nice forest!
We then had a short road walk to get to Waitomo, passing the glow worm caves that are Waitomos main attraction. We headed into the town to get food and a much craved soda. That Fanta was one of the best of my life. So cold and so sweet. Delicious. We devoured a pizza and then went to find the general store.
On the way we saw Erin getting off the bus and she was staying at the same place as us so we all went together. We stopped by the general store which had a terrible food selection so we left with nothing, but played a game of giant Jenga on the way out.
We walked the 1km down the road (off trail) to get to the YHA. Another YHA that isn’t affiliated with the YHA. The discount for the low carbon traveller is given by the owner as a token gesture so it’s not the full 25% but we got a bed for NZ$25.
We had a long list of things to do and we didn’t do any of them. We could have used the pool, we could have played tennis, but instead we sat on the sofa. Julia chose to watch The Shawshank Redemption. I have seen this movie around 100 times at least, and could probably quote the whole script, so I used the time to update the blog and have a cuddle with Max the dog. I don’t know how she suffered her way through it, there were a couple of kids running about and making a lot of noise, the mother was narrating through the film to her older son, there were so many people cooking and and eating and making a whole bunch of noise, plus there were people playing a game with dice which were so loud! She had the subtitles on so she knew what was going on!
This hostel is super busy and I think if we had known we would have opted to camp instead of a bed but you live and you learn. The manager did sell us $1 sodas which was excellent. I managed to get one job done which was to glue the holes in my shoes. I’m praying they will be dry by the morning. We didn’t get around to doing any laundry and I showered at 10:30 pm which was way too late. I seem to have developed a habit of picking the shit shower wherever we go and this one was only a dribble of hot or a blast of cold. I went for the dribble of hot and didn’t stay in there long.
My bed is the top bunk. It’s old and rickety and the mattress sags severely in the middle. It’s so uncomfortable! I wish I was lying on my thermarest.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps.