From Rerewhakaaitu we moved south to 5 Mile Bay, Taupo for the night and then into Taupo and we spent last night on the lake edge there. We went for a walk around the shops (Sunday) and then spent much of the afternoon reading and resting. Today we had the tyre pressure in the motor home checked and all pumped up to 60psi. Then we headed to get the stone chip in the windscreen we got two days ago fixed.
We met up with K and P in Turangi at lunch time and then we all made our way to Waiouru where we plan to spend tonight behind the museum. The weather was settled today but the mountains covered in cloud and as the weather report still tells us that bad weather is moving in we have parked the Tongariro crossing to do another time.
It seems we are moving further south without getting any walking or biking in based largely on the current weather situation. I am keen to check off some more of the trail but not so keen to be miserable with rain, wind and cold conditions.
We're also moving closer to the South Island where overnight a 7.5 magnitude earthquake created some significant damage to infrastructure and sadly caused two deaths. We felt the quake in Taupo and the motor home rocked as though it were being shaken by a group of people outside. It is likely to affect the route we can take once we get across the strait. Currently ferry crossings are cancelled due to damage on both the Picton and Wellington ferry terminal areas.
Leaving the very windy Waiouru this morning we continued south, this time looking for a camp site that is quiet and sheltered. We found it just out of Taihape, at the Mokai Gravity Canyon. This is a bungy site in an incredibly deep and narrow canyon but at this time of the year it is deserted. The DOC camp was totally overgrown and so we parked up in the Bungy car park which is also a POP (Park over property for NZMCA members).
This area is protected from the wind and despite occasional showers we were both keen to get out and go for a walk. We followed a walking trail here to a couple of lookouts and took some photos of the canyon below. The bush walk was superb, despite being overgrown. Some areas the grass was over our heads! I really enjoyed the atmosphere in the bush, the ability to stroll, take photos, notice what's about and not be pressured into walking a pace that is really a bit too fast and just seeing where the next footsteps go on the ground ahead.
We have missed out the Tongariro crossing and the Wanganui river as the weather has been terrible and both of us are getting a bit frustrated at not getting on with parts of the trail. Not that we could have last week through being still tired from the previous month and buying the camper and setting it up. These last few days though we are feeling fit again and have made decisions based on weather and a time frame to cross the ferry to the South Island. All being well we hope to do some biking out of Whanganui tomorrow.
Peter had another flat tyre today – the third so far this trip so he and Warren changed that and we headed back into Taihape to get it fixed before leaving for Whanganui.
In Whanganui we parked in the Victoria Park where there is a beautiful winter garden and lake with ample photo opportunities. We went for a walk with cameras and snapped heaps of lovely photos of the bird life here and the trees and flowers.
What lousy weather we are having and it looks like it’s only going to get worse, which doesn’t bode well for walking or cycling. Today there are postings in Facebook advising TA walkers not to proceed right now with the Richmond Nelson sections of the South Island, the Bluebridge ferry is not taking bookings, the Paekakariki Escarpment trail is closed and it’s considered too dangerous to walk SH1 around it while the heavy machinery is clearing the slips on the road there.
There is a lot against us continuing this trail at present and we are undecided what to do.
Yesterday was forecast for thunderstorms and the rain threatened all day then let go late in the afternoon. All day long the wind blew a gale. We wasted time in Whanganui getting a few non-essential items from the shops as well as an inverter. Although not essential right now we need it to charge laptops and other sundries and so a miserable day is a good day to deal to things like that.
Later in the evening I found that we were parked up in a free wifi zone at a sports club and so took the opportunity to book our ferry crossing for the 6th December. K and P also booked for the same crossing. We booked this day as it tied in well with their commitments in Wellington the week previous.
Today dawned fine, although with still a stiff wind. We needed to get going and so headed to the Powerboat Club to start the next section of the trail. We would ride to Bulls. The trail followed SH3 for the first 20kms before heading down to the Turakina beach where we joined up with the forestry road that runs parallel to the beach. K and P drove the campers and met us just before the forestry section for a lunch stop. By the time we got to Bulls we had done 59kms so a good day and it certainly feels good to be on the go again.
Yesterday we biked from Mt Lees reserves just out of Bulls to Palmerston North and really enjoyed a flat ride with a tail wind. We followed the trail as much as was on the road but were disappointed not to see trail markers along the way. The first were those on the Palmerston North river trail that is a walking and biking path. TA walkers don't rely on seeing markers; you will struggle without the map as a guide.
We're feeling good and so we decided that we would attempt the three-day walk from Palmerston North to Levin. K and P are happy to move the campers so we got busy and repackage our packs for another long walk.
Warren didn't sleep well last night. He woke this morning a wee bit disappointed that the day was fine because if it had been wet we could have called it off. I was keen though and we got up, showered, had breakfast and were on our way by 8am. Today's walk was nice despite a fair portion being on the road. The nicest part was on an old road no longer used by vehicles but maintained for walkers and cyclists. We saw heaps of mountain bikers today. I guess a fine Sunday brings them out and there were mountain bike trails everywhere.
The last hour and a half was along a forestry road and we pushed on to get through this section as they are still working this piece of forest and we didn't want to be there on Monday morning. The signage also said it was a daylight area only. This last bit we were really tired and pleased to find a campsite at the start of the next section of track, Burttons track, which we will do tomorrow.
The day started early as Warren didn't sleep well again so we were up, dressed, fed and camp dismantled before 7.30am.
The tracks today were nice tracks although with all the recent rain there was plenty of water in the rivers and frequent stream crossings. While crossing the first river my walking pole collapsed and I found myself sitting in the river so it was wet boots and wet pants for me for the rest of the day. It did help us decide not to bother changing into sandals for each water crossing and it would have been impractical with so many today. We stood twice to empty our boots and wring out our socks but in the end we just squished onward.
Burttons track was part of our walk today and followed an old path that Mr Burtton had built by hand 100 years ago. We passed the spot where he had spent 40 years of his life living so isolated. He had a suspension bridge across the river to his hut and after 10 years of use it collapsed one day. He fell 8 metres into the river breaking a leg, ribs and suffering internal injuries. It took him 12 hours to crawl the 6.5kms to his nearest neighbour. I just can't imagine how hard that must have been. He certainly must have been made of sturdy stock. As it is reported, he died from his injuries at the age of 60 years old. The track we followed he had built by hand and was benched into the hillside above the river on what is in many places very steep country. There is no room for error on the track with the edge dropping very steeply down to the river below and also with many streams crossing the track as water tumbles down the hillside.
By midday Warren was keen for us to leave the track and head out to Shannon and give tomorrow's walk a miss. It's just getting too tiring and tomorrow looks like another hill climb so we took the road option out. We called up Peter once we had cell reception and he came across from Foxton Beach for us.
The walk from the trail down the road was steep and winding and I guess was about 8-9kms as it took us 2 hours to get down to the power station where we stopped and sat on the park bench and made ourselves a cup of soup.
On the way to Foxton Beach we stopped for an egg burger and chips to finish off the day.
Happy wedding anniversary to us!