The two days off were certainly good and I felt so much better for having lots of sleep. This morning it was off again and we started out riding 8kms on the bikes to the start of the Wairoa river track which the joined the Hunua Ranges track. The day started out fine and pleasant but by early afternoon the thunder started to roll and we had the most impressive hail storm which coated the trail in white. The temperature dropped and we quickly donned first our rain coats and then soon after our leggings to try to keep us warm. We needed to keep moving as the air temperature had dropped so much. The trail had just turned to a tramping track when the storm set in and the surface became very wet and muddy and slippery. Gosh familiar walking surface.
There was no view to appreciate as the shrubbery had grown up and the weather was clogged in so we trudged on until we reached the Repeater road camp spot at 5.45pm.
We have had a quick cup of soup and some pasta and tucked into bed early to stay warm. Luckily the rain stopped before we had to set up camp and we managed to get changed into warm clothes and into bed without getting wetter.
Memories of the first month:
The regular call of the pheasant
Steep muddy narrow tracks
Superb views that are too big to photograph
Getting sick of nut bars, OSM's, trail mix
Thank goodness for Peter and Kath
Dogs barking when passing every farm gate
Rain showers so the coat is on/off and on again
Trail angel offering smoked fish, shower, camp site
Well it was a cold night last night and we were very glad to have our thermals and warm sleeping bags. Luckily there was enough gas to cook some porridge this morning as we had thought the gas canister was running really low last night. After dismantling camp (read wet tent) we headed off down the road having decided that we didn't want to complete the Hunua Range after the cold wet and tiring day we had previously.
We walked the road out to SH2 allowing ourselves a few short rests along the way to relieve the tired backs and aching feet. Once we passed under the bridge of SH2 we were able to get cell reception and so called P and K. They were in Mercer and so as we were low on water and only 3 hours away from Mercer we decided to carry on and complete the stop bank walk to get there today.
It was probably further than we should have completed today but again sometimes the decisions are made based on circumstances such as facilities along the way or as it was today, water supply.
Interestingly today Warren felt the ping of a developing blister and so decided to stop and tape it up. Right there was a run down derelict shed on the side of the road with bench seats, old mattresses on the floor and a broken BBQ. On the wall was a remnant of a newspaper article on the subject of accidents related to hunting. The shed had belonged to Auckland/Waikato Fish and Game and the article was of real significance to us both as it was dated May 1988 and told of the accidental shooting fatality of David Halsey. David had been a good friend of mine and a school friend of Warrens. We both remember it well and what a coincidence to find it by chance.
We are starting to think that some parts of this walk are likely to be too tough for us. The tramping sections are taking their toll on us and today I have finished the day with many aggregated blisters and we both have very achy bodies.
After a welcome shower we headed off to the Mercer restaurant where we indulged in a nice dinner before bed.
We started the day with Panadol and Ibuprofen as both of us were feeling sore. Slowly we got organised and left K and P at 9am to head off to complete the walk from Mercer to Rangiriri. Why oh why do they decide to put you crook at the start of the day by having the street sign pointing the wrong way, and then once you get orientated you find the trail heads up hill and down dale, scrambling through rough scrub and wetlands. From there we popped out onto the side of SH1 and followed the track under both the railway and the two highway bridges then we followed the road edge, the notes said keep close to the river but you couldn't get close to the river, and then it was largely stop bank and farmland alongside the mighty Waikato river.
By the time we got to the point where the road and trail combined at 4.30pm we had had enough and so jumped aboard our reliable support vehicle to head to Te Kawhata for the night.
The weather today was fine and sunny with just a breeze and we biked the 12 kms to Huntly when we met up with our support team for lunch, then completed the additional 18kms to Ngaruawahia where we stopped off for the night at 'The Point'.
Our discussion as we sat on the riverside was 'how/where to from here?'. We are realising that this is really too physically hard for us but we are still keen to make our way to Bluff. The trail is hard work, particularly through the bush and mountains and there is plenty more of that ahead if we carry on as we are.
Our discussions last night finished with us deciding to replace Fries and do the rest of the 5 month period doing the sections of trail that we can, utilising a camper for us and still having K and P as backup to help out particularly where we will need to have transport from one end of a bike or walk trail.
I put an offer in on a Mitsy Canter in Kapati but missed out on that. We decided to bike to Hamilton and enjoyed that although still some very noticeable tiredness and sore muscles.
Then I tried for a Merc and missed that too. I scrolled for hours through Trademe and couldn't find anything else so in the end Peter phoned Boothy from Diamond Motorhomes and he said that he had a Merc available. We went to see him and it seems suitable but is in Kerikeri so we're arranging to be delivered tomorrow to Tauranga where we will pick up the car and head to Kerikeri to pick it up.
We will get a week or so off and so that should help us recover. Tonight we are parked up at the Glenview club in Hamilton where we have just enjoyed a lovely meal and hot shower.
We arrived back to Tauranga midday to some very surprised neighbours and family. We had a quick look around the local motor home yards but there was nothing there. We have since found another vehicle in Otorohonga and will go and look at it tomorrow.
We visited Mum and Lynda this morning (at Mums place) then headed to Otorohanga to see the Isuzu. We were a bit horrified at the state of it - very dirty and not at all well presented, but convinced that we could clean it up and be happy with the result so paid a deposit and hope to get it Tuesday or Wednesday. It's a 2003 Isuzu NPR 6.5 metre motor home for those needing details.
The motor home is still to get a COF and hopefully it's today so we can pick it up tomorrow. We've spent our time sorting gear, doing washing, enjoying the pleasure of a hot shower and our own bed. Today seems to be going slowly as we wait for word to confirm that we can head to Otorohanga tomorrow. I've spent some time at Mums getting her iPad working and in doing so I forgot about the Xmas cake in the oven at home. Enough to say it's well cooked. Dam!
Despite the frustration of waiting which we never do well it's good to be resting up. I'm glad we didn't need to go to Kerikeri.
The last few days have been too busy to even think about updating this blog. The COF for the motor home took a day longer than expected and we eventually headed to Otorohanga on Wednesday 9 Nov with Tom and Allie to pick it up. Andrew had blown all the hay from the top of the motor, put there by the birds over time, and after sorting the final payment and insurance we headed to Te Awamutu for a well deserved coffee before coming home.
The afternoon was a cleaning frenzy with Tom and Allie providing huge assistance, not to forget Lance as well. The inside and outside had the best clean that this machine has probably ever had and it certainly came up looking much more respectable and ready for us to load up with our gear.
Then of course it needed the scrutiny of the neighbours and seemed like all considered it a suitable replacement for Fries.
There were also adjustments and repairs to be done and Warren and Tom got busy fitting a bike rack, resealing roof vents where the silicone had dried out and they were leaking, fixing the door step after it broke and replacing the alternrator belt which was cracked.
Final supplies were loaded and we managed to get away about 2pm yesterday. We stopped off briefly to say goodbye to Mum and then headed off to Rerewhakaatu where K and P were sitting by the lake fishing. We didn't see any fish, apparently they caught them all last year.
Our impressions so far with the motor home are good. It is certainly going to be easy to spend the summer in and we are pretty happy with it all round. It's not as quick as Fries was but then it's not a race, so they say and a far cry from walking.
Now we need to star to figure out how to carry on with our journey. What will be be able to manage and what can't we. It's a wet day here today and so we will be able to do a bit of planning ahead. We will now be able to make an earlier crossing on the Cook Strait Ferry and avoid the summer (school) holiday rush. At this stage it might be the second week of December.