February 2nd 2017
Palmerston North – Fitzpatrick bridge
Total distance: 933.3 miles
We were up early ready to walk into town to get our bus to Palmy. A few people got up to see us off, it was a bit sad to be parting ways with everyone, but we are all at different stages of the trail so part ways we must. Hopefully we will meet some of them again in the future. Such a big group could have been difficult or fractious, but we were really lucky that it all worked out so well and we all had a great time. It was pouring with rain and our 30 minute walk meant we were completely soaked through by the time we got to the bus station. Gross. It was raining so hard rivers were flowing down the streets and it was rushing off of gutters. I really didn’t want to hike anywhere in that. We saw Colin from the other group who were on the river at the same time as us, he was getting the bus all the way to Wellington.
On the bus I dried out a lot. How great is quick dry technology! I had plans to use the 1.5 hour bus ride to update the blog but my battery pack didn’t charge properly overnight so I didn’t want to use too much of my phone battery in case I ran out, so the blog would have to wait and I spent most of the journey staring out the window shivering under the air conditioning.
When we arrived in Palmy we headed straight for the iSight which was the closest thing, and tried to make a plan. We settled in there on a sofa and got a hot chocolate as we were so cold, and we stared out at the rain. It wasn’t getting any better. Julia couldn’t make the wifi work so we dragged ourselves away from the dry indoors and headed out to look for something to eat. We feel like we have spent a small fortune over the past couple of weeks so we were looking for something cheap and cheerful. We found a noodle and dumpling place and decided to go there. 16 dumplings for NZ$11! So much food for not much money! We couldn’t eat all of it so we took the leftovers away with us and went to the library across the street so we could use the wifi. I felt absolutely gross, I felt like my shorts were cutting into my skin because they were so tight, but when I felt them they weren’t tight at all, so really I feel like my skin is too tight, I feel like I’m going to burst open like the Incredible Hulk.
The library was really cool, it had on display the worlds largest published book so I geeked out at that for a while before settling down on a sofa and getting down to the task of blog updating. I got really tired so I had a little snooze until I was rudely awakened by some terrible piano playing, it seems anyone can just come in and play the piano which is a terrible idea because it sounds awful! After my third listen to chopsticks I was getting a bit tired of it so I tried to make a plan.
The plan I came up with involved walking over to Pack’n’Save to resupply, then getting a local bus out to the place we left our hike last time and then staying at a home stay of some people who are listed in the trail notes. A quick call to them cemented our plan. We had planned to do about 15 miles today but the weather was so gross and as it was due to clear up tomorrow for a few days, we didn’t see the point of hiking and being miserable in the rain.
So, we resupplied, I went up and down the aisles looking for inspiration but found none. I ended up buying the same old stuff. Wraps and tuna for dinner. Oat bars for breakfast and fruit sticks as snacks. Neither Cadbury or the Natural Confectionary Company were on offer so I ended up buying a small bar of salted caramel dark chocolate (you can’t eat as much dark chocolate so maybe that will limit my consumption) and some pineapple lumps, which are a New Zealand thing I thought sounded disgusting, but are actually quite nice. We then got on the bus. The bus drivers are really helpful here and are happy to give you a shout when you’ve got to where you need to go. This lady went a step further and took us all the way to the highway and dropped us off there. It was on the bus route but there was no stop there. So nice of her.
We then picked up the trail again and walked along a very nice path along the river. It was still raining but not as ferociously as earlier. There were huge puddles all over the place but our feet couldn’t have been any wetter so we ploughed on through. We only had 4.4 miles to walk and the path was paved so it went fairly quickly. By the time we arrived at Paula and Brian’s house we were soaked again.
They are a super nice couple, empty nesters with lots of spare rooms. Brian’s work involves looking after the trails south of here so he knows a lot about Te Araroa. We found out that it’s because of him there is a nice bridge for us to cross coming up instead of having to cross the river 3 times and he is working on a nice half way sign for the trail. When they realised the trail was so close to their home they decided to open it up for TA hikers and they’ve had about 40 people pass through this season.
They sometimes provide food for hikers, we arrived on a leftover day, but they still gave us corn on the cob and a cup of tea. We chatted with them for a few hours and Paula showed us this awesome book about a man in his 80s who travelled around New Zealand by walking the roads on the 1960s.
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.