Friday, 28 November 2014

Day 29. Te Kauwhata Pump house to Hakarimata Range (TA km 765).

Today 36 km. Total 765 km.  11 1/2 hours (0730 -1900).

I was off at 0730.  As I crossed the stile near where I camped there was an information board about the track and it said no camping - oops. There was a 30 meters road walk then onto the stopbank for 3 km,  then road for 2 km and then stopbank for the final 2 km to Rangariri.

Within 5 minutes of starting my left shoe inner sole started scrunching up again so I took it out.  Then 10 minutes later the right one also did the same so that one came out as well. Luckily there is very little road walking today but I was really annoyed and a little worried how my feet would survive with no inner soles for the next two days.

For a short while I was entertained by a farmer moving dairy cows to a new paddock after milking. For some reason rather than get them onto the road and then along the road into their new paddock he moved them through another paddock that had lots of grass.  By the time he got the far gate open the cows had settled in and did not want to move. When I went out of sight 5 minutes later he had still not successfully got any of the cows out of that paddock despite much yelling and racing around on his motorbike.

Freshly weaned calves seeing their mums walk past after milking -very sad 

More stopbank

The big ruts made by cows walking the track when it is wet

OCD - obsessive compulsive disorder ?

Cages to make sure the Taniwha ( Maori water monster ) don't escape the river

Warning noted

Young bulls waiting to ambush me


These are more dangerous

I decided to divert off the route in Rangiri in order to get a coffee and snack.  This meant crossing SH1 and following beside it for a hundred meters.  Luckily there was room on the other side of the safety rail.  I tried the flash public toilets there but was not impressed.  Everything was push button including getting toilet paper but there wasn't any paper.  Then for washing your hands there were sensors to give soap and water.  The trouble is when you held your hands under the picture for soap the soap squirted in a different place and it would only give one dollop. For water you only got two small squirts which wasn't enough.

They look pretty but not impressed

Then to top off my Rangiri experience the cafe was closed.  I was really annoyed at walking an extra km for no benefit. Just as I was about to walk away the owner arrived and opened up (1000) and Rangiri was off the black list though he was only selling cold drinks and Ice creams.  Apparently his cook had run off and he couldn't find a replacement so he was closing the cafe and giving up the lease.  I had a Poweraid and ice cream and chatted with the owner for a while. Just as I left a light misting rain started up.  It wasn't enough to bother with a jacket for and it was too warn for a jacket anyway, I would have been sweating so much I would be soaked.

After negotiating my way down and over the highway again I crossed a one lane bridge that had a nice raised pedestrian path.

The Bridge over the Waikato River

It was then onto stopbanks for the next 9 km. You may think that would get boring but it is not as bad as you would think. The terrain changes every time you cross a stile,  which you do a lot. Sometimes you have the perfect short grass and smooth ground.  Then you could have the long grass and the ground could be rough due to cows walking on it when wet,  or any combination of these. There was also the weather giving some variety between rain,  light mist and just overcast.  With the rain the grass was wet and my shoes were soaked. I don't like these shoes lack of drainage and I stayed squelching continuously  There is also cows and sheep to look at. The misty rain cane and went and a couple of times got a little heavier so I got my umbrella out.

Thistles to avoid

Long grass to fight through

No I have not developed a stange disease,  these are seeds from the long grass

Yay the umbrella

As I came around a corner on the stopbank I could see the Huntly Power Station chimney and I got all excited. I started singing out loud which is the first time I have done this.  I survived the beach and bush without singing but it is the stopbanks that cracked me. Unfortunately my memory of song lyrics is not good and nor is my voice so I felt sorry for the animals around having to listen to me.  I soon calmed down when I checked my map and realised I still had quite a way to go.
The trail went past the golf course with the notes saying keep to the edges for safety.  I think it was to keep the riff raff out of sight,  and smell, which is a sensible move on their part.

It was then some more stopbank walking,  then 1 km of road. Here I met John. He is on a 3 week cycle tour of NZ. He stopped when he saw me and we chatted for a while.  He is an Australian who was also in the Army, though the Australian one.  He is now retired and does cycle tours a few times year to NZ and Europe. After that nice break it was more stopbank and the final road section before a short walk through trees to the sculpture park in front of the Power Station.

The chimneys of Huntly Power Station

There is the whole power station

There is such a thing as too friendly

Neat sculpture opposite the power station

 I wandered through to see the sculpture and sat down there to wring my socks out and try putting my inner soles back in as there was road walking ahead. 2 minutes later I had to take the left out again but the right one stayed ok for the rest of the way.

I stopped in Huntly for a burger,  chips and some pineapple fritters as a late lunch before the final 4 km road walk.

This seemed to go really fast and I reached the turnoff well before i expected to. It was then 800 meters up the road to the Hakarimata Reserve for the start of the Hakarimata Track.  It was straight up to the top via lots of steps but this only took 20 minutes to the upper lookout which had great views back where I had come from back to the Hunua Ranges. 10 minutes on was the southern lookout where I could see Hamilton and Pirongia where I would be heading to.

The Hakarimata Range

Unfortunately all the sacks were gone

Just a few stairs

Informative lookout

Looking North. You can just make out the Hunua Ranges above the river

Looking South from the next viewing. You can see Mt Pirongia to the far right

Great DOC sign.  Usually they just give time as speed is very dependant on trail condition. I like it when they give time and distance as that gives an idea on how bad the trail will be.

Then it was following a great rooty track along the ridge line up and down. When I looked at my watch the time had flown by as I was really enjoying this track.  I saw it was time to look for a campsite and 10 minutes on the track came out onto an old grass vehicle track which made a lovely campsite.  I could look out across the Waikato from my tent.

Great rooty trail

Watch your footing

Root staircase

Splash of colour

Trimmings from recent trail maintenance. A little hard to see the roots under this

Night 29
 Looking down over Waikato landscape

I wasn't hungry after my huge lunch so I just had soup, tea, a pineapple fritter and some instant pudding.

Looking out my tent door I watched the clouds turn red with the sunset and the lights stay appearing below.

Pretty Sunset

Not a bad view

Day 28. Mangatawhiri Swingbridge to Te Kauwhata Pumphouse.

Today 35.5 km. Total 729.5 km. 10 hours 45 minutes.  (0730-1815).

Last night was hot for the first time. I kept the tent flap open until I heard some rain sometime during the night.
I left at 0730, back into my normal routine. It was a quick 30 minutes on a nice track through the bush to the road end and then 5 km of road walking which I didn't mind as it was nice to stretch the legs and look around without having to worry about where my feet were going.  It was the time of the morning when the farmers were feeding the calves so it was interesting to watch as I plodded along. There were also a lot of birds about and I was able to get close to a couple of Rosellas which were feeding on the road.

Lovely track on short bush section

Large orange marker leading back into the trees


These guys don't look too nervous

The weather was the same low cloud and occasional misting rain as yesterday.  It got heavier for 10 minutes so out came the umbrella. It was also still really muggy and I was sweating continuously and really thirsty. This continued all day and got worse when the sun came out for a couple of hours.

After an hour I was at the highway but due to rerouting I was only on the highway for a couple of hundred meters before crossing under the bridge and up onto the stopbank which I followed for the next 6.5 km. I really enjoyed this part. The track was generally good though the grass was long in places.  There was a constant racket from both sides of the stopbank from birds,  crickets,  frogs,  ducks and geese.

Occasional obstacles on the stopbank

And sometimes long grass

My feet were soaked from the wet grass and my new shoes inner soles apparently do not do well in the water.  After 3 km of wet feet one started to scrunch up causing ridges under my feet which is very uncomfortable.  I tried putting my orthotics in but these shoes are already very supportive
 and the orthotic was uncomfortable after a while. I tried squeezing all the water out of my socks and the inner sole but this would only last a couple of minutes and they would scrunch again.  After another km the other one started doing the same thing. It was so frustrating.  Eventually I just took the inner soles out as this was the best I could do.

First the left
Then the right. Not very comfortable when my innersole started creasing forming lumps under my foot

At the end of the stopbank there was a 1.5 km gravel road walk and then single track through some trees and under the motorway bridge to get across the other side of the motorway.  The neat little track then continued to Mercer. For some reason I thought there was a subway there and I had been thinking about what type of sandwich I was going to have. Unfortunately no subway so I had to make do with McDonald's instead.  After that I bought a fruit drink and Ice cream to help me on my way.

I crossed over the motorway and headed up a steep hill which changed from road to farmland and the track the followed parallel to the motorway going up and down some steep little hills.  In this area there were heaps of Skinks. I was afraid I was going to step on one.  A couple of times I nearly did but fortunately most of them had the sense to go off the track when they heard me coming.

Down and up

Views of the Waikato River

No complaints about lack of verge

The track ended at the site of an old British fort from the Waikato Wars. Then down the hill and over the railway line and under the motorway.  For a short time there was a nice track through the trees but then it was walking on the grass beside the road to Meremere. Last time I was there it was still single lane and the old power station was there. Now it is a motorway and the power station is something else.

Shortly after there was a small bridge and that was the start of the river trail. It was now 11.5 km along the river by farmland,  stopbank, trees and the occasional gorse patch.  The track was generally good but there were a couple of not so good patches but even they were ok. In preparation for camping I filtered some water from the river though I was all a little dubious about drinking this as the Waikato River has a bad reputation for waste quality however I put my trust in my Sawyer Water Filter.

The stopbank

Spooky ruins


You are never alone on this walk as birds are a constant presence

The misty rain returned which was not heavy enough for a jacket but got the grass wet again and my inner soles started scrunching again. Lucky my campsite was in sight when they did this so I just put up with it for a couple of minutes.

I set up my tent under some trees for protection from the wind and rain and finished off my night routine.  As I was thirsty from the humid day I had a cup of tea before my soup and dinner was Mexican Chicken Freeze Dri.  Desert was just a lollie tonight. The final sounds of the night was the wind ripping through the trees but I was nice and sheltered where I was.

The trees on the left is where I plan to camp

Night 28