Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Day 54. Fielding to Palmerston North.

Today 23 km+ 2 km non trail. Total 1470 km. 6 hours (0700-1300).

It rained on and off last night but by the time I started packing up my tent was dry.  I had a look at the avaries and one had native birds including Kea, Kaka, Kakariki, Wood Pigeon,  Morepork, weka and some ducks. While it is nice for people to see these birds I find it sad to see them in captivity,  especially the Kea which are incredibly intelligent and easily bored.

I left the park at 0700 and walked through the empty town to the start of a very long straight of around 4 km before the excitement of a corner and another long straight.

In Bunntthorpe I stopped for a cold drink and the lady at the dairy was curious about my walk.  I left sad because she said she would love to go camping but hey husband would not let her and demanded she was always there to look after him.  He sounded very controlling and would not let her go away with her friends for more than a couple of hours.

At another 1.5 km I had the excitement of waking on grass on a paper road for a whole 1.5 km.  I have recently heard that the Manawatu section of the Te Araroa Trust is working hard to find a way of the roads in this area which would be great as it is a lot of road without the breaks into different terrain that we have had elsewhere.

Exiting Fielding

Long straight roads

The excitement of grass

A few stiles

Bouncy bridge

Big grin as back on grass

Wind turbines

Flash TA sign

River Trail next to Manawatu River

Fitzherbet Bridge in the rain

It was then 4.5 km more roads passing through the outskirts of Palmerston North before getting onto the river trail for the last 6 km to the Fitzherbert Bridge. Not long onto the river trail the rain started and continued until I reached the Bridge then it was Blue sky with no sign it had just been raining.  This weather is crazy.

From the Bridge I walked into town meeting two TA people on their way out of town.

I checked into the Pepper Tree Backpackers, went shopping then relaxed for the afternoon. 

Day 53. Santoft Forest to Fielding.

Today 39 km. Total 1447 km (+ 12 km which is the 8 km existing credit plus todays 4 km extra for the official detour due to logging operation). 11 hours 40 minutes (0800-1940).

Today was the first day of all roads and nothing but roads.  All of it less 4 km was on tar seal as well.  It was also a day of contrasts with the weather and a day where I met two more wonderful Trail Angels.

I was woken at 0530 by the birds and just snoozed until 0630. It was then into my normal morning routine but I was a little slower than normal,  must be out of practice at the river.

I was on my way at 0800 down a gravel road in the forest for 3.5 km.  Then due to logging operations on the trail I started the detour which was all sealed road.

Road through the forest

Interesting fence

Look at the figure in the background

Tiny flowers

Hot hot road

It was really hot with the sun out with force and no breeze or shade.  I was really feeling the effects and drank most of my water very quickly.  I passed a guy and he made a comment which I replied to then he asked the normal "where have you come from,  where are you going" questions.  He let me know it was only 6 km to Bulls and I said I was glad so I could buy a cold drink. He immediately said I could have a cold drink at his house. I didn't want to put him to any trouble but said it would be great if I could refill my water bottles.  So this was the start of some amazing hospitality from Mike and Jean Robinson.

Mike led me around to his house where I met his wife Jean. They offered me tea and I asked for just a water, not wanting to be a bother.  Mike filled my water bottles and Jean offered to make some lunch. When I hesitated she asked if I had any timing to meet and when I said no she said I was to stay for lunch and I didn't need asking again as the hiker hunger overrode politeness. As i was now staying for a little while they put my water bottles in the freezer so they would be cold when I left.  The three of us talked as she made since sandwiches and this time I said yes to a cup of tea. The sandwiches were delicious and these were followed by a muslea bar, then oranges, apples and bananas and some fantastic fudge that I would pay a lot of money for in a shop as it was exactly how I like my fudge.  Along with this fantastic feast was interesting conversation. When it was time to leave they offered me a shower which while tempting I declined knowing I would be sweating as soon as I started walking again. Jean then gave me a handful of fruit leather sticks which are a great idea to try to stave off the fruit craving I have.

Jean and Mike were amazing.  They were so giving and generous to a random smelly tramper.  Nothing seemed like a bother and they genuinely seemed to want to make life better for a complete stranger. I really enjoyed my time with them.  I have decided to save one of the fruit leather strips to Christmas Day when I will think about them and the other amazing people I have met on this adventure.

Fantastic Trail Angels -Mike and Jean Robinson

I left Mike and Jean's house nearly 2 hours late feeling a lot better than I arrived and the rest of the road to Bulls went quickly despite the heat.

I got a thick shake from McDonald's and continued out of town on SH1,  across the Bridge over the Rangitikei River and onto quiet backroads. The sun was now covered by clouds buit it was still humid and hot . After about 4 km it started raining so I put on my rain gear but the rain stopped and I was over heating so I took it all back off 5 minutes later.  It then continued to rain on and off until 1730 when it started raining continuously and harder so my rain gear went back on and stayed for the next 2.5 hours. Talk about contrasts in weather today. Just as I was approaching Fielding around 1930 it stopped raining. I then started looking fit a campsite and found a stealth campsite under a tree in Kowhai Park (there was no sign saying no camping but I kept a low profile anyway), near the avaries which makes for some interesting sounds to sleep to. I think I can hear a Kea which I will have to check out tomorrow morning.

Bulls is the best themed town

Great murals

Even the police have joined in

Bridge out of Bulls

TA signs - not as flash as in Whangarei but clear and consistent


Corrugated Iron cows in Fielding

Night 53

As I write this my tent is being bombarded by two very large and noisy insects demanding entry into my tent.  I had the same last night and I think they are Huhu Beetles. 

Day 52. Wanganui to Santoft Forest.

Today 39 km. Total 1408 km. 10 hours 40 minutes (0830-1910)

I left the Backpacker at 0730 and wandered into town looking at the sculptures and murals as I went.  At the supermarket I brought lunch for the next leg then had breakfast at a cafe.

The river trail

This is the Wanganui River. Look closely at the reflection for a fine looking tramper.  

Loved this mural

I was on the road at 0830. Today started with a couple of km out of Wanganui then  20 km on SH3, a very busy road. After an hour I had just sat down for a rest when a car pulled up to the intersection and the people indicated that they wanted to talk.  It turns out they are doing TA themselves.  They had done everything south of Wanganui and some bits in the north
They intended to keep doing bits and finish. They had some good stories of some of their trail adventures and I enjoyed the chat.

Nearly 30 minutes later I continued on my way. One funny sight was seeing a horse scratching itself on the support wire for a power pole and seeing the whole pole shaking and the wires all the way to the next pole.

Shaking power pole

Haven't had a letter box picture for a while

Public rose garden in the middle of a paddock

See I am stopping to smell the roses on this journey

The road had decent bike lane for most of it but there were two bits that were more narrow and I had to walk on the rough grass to keep out of the way of the incoming traffic.

Leaving Wanganui District

Most of the roads have good shoulders

The one part with no shoulder

There was one small detour through a little town called Whangaehu and I was hoping there might be a shop to get a cold drink as I was roasting. The was a building labeled General Store established 1946 but unfortunately it was not a store anymore.

At Turakina I turned right and had another 8.5 more km to walk to get to the beach at Koitiata. Just as I was entering the town a car pulled over and started reversing back to me,  though very badly and I was getting ready to jump out of the way when it stopped.  The lady asked if I was doing the trail and then told me she worried about women doing it on their own,  especially with the druggies who are growing marijuana in the forest along the beach.  I explained that I had only had positive experiences so far and liked the independence.  She invited me back to her house to fill up my water bottles which I accepted.  When I arrived she had water ready and some iced water to drink which was fantastic.

Hot enough to melt the tar

Nice lady who filled my water bottles and gave me an ice water drink

I then walked to the beach and followed this for the next 8 km,
stopping for the 1400 km photo. It was an interesting beach, complete with a seal.  It is black sand and there is heaps of driftwood and dunes. I was lucky with the tide which was coming in but still left enough room to walk on firm sand for 7 km and the last km was softer buy still not too bad.  Also the one stream we had to cross was conveniently bridged with driftwood.

Entry to the beach at Koitiata

1400 km

NZ Fur Seal

Black sand beach

Driftwood bridge over Koitiata Stream

The marker off the beach was very hard to see , especially when I didn't know what I would be looking for.  Luckily my time estimate from Koitiata Stream to the turnoff was spot on so I was actively looking for some mark.

Can you spot the marker? 

This is it close up

From the beach the track went over the dunes and dropped into a tunnel of trees before coming out onto a gravel road.  I followed this for a km then at up camp in the pine trees. The best thing- NO SANDFLYS

The dunes

Track marker

Plunging into the forest

Night 52