The big smoke was amazing! Water on tap, wifi everywhere and most importantly friends and family. While resting up I traded out my dad’s army fly for a poncho/fly that was smaller and I ended up with some toe shoes for the roads.
With my feet looking less like something out of Lord of the rings I headed for the next bush section the hunua ranges. And let me tell you it was some lovely tracks to be walking, well maintained, little bit of a climb but nothing to worry about no mud or fallen trees.
I also met a guy who used to catch eels out of the steam when he was a kid. Telling him what I was up to he was happy to help find the best spot and best method for the job. It seemed like me he hadn’t done a lot of the outdoor stuff as an adult. We didn’t catch much but I may have reawaken an old passion.
People ask me what the rules are for this adventure and to be honest I only really have one. Respect the laws of the land. This can be difficult when you’re caught between places to camp but you do your best and locals tend to understand your in a fix. This is where I found myself coming into the hunua falls car park after a late start. The sign said no tent camping, and I knocked on the local doors near by they all suggested I risk it. And with both toilets and water it beats camping on the trail (you are asked not to wander off trail to protect the kauri). Come the morning the ranger found me and let me off the hook even warned me about the trail being closed off ahead. So road walking into hunua township for lunch I hitched to the next section on moumoukai rd (it means to waste food I wonder what that’s about).
Here I was dropped off at the biggest dam in the region and spent the day walking down a biking trail down to a campsite by a steam. Looking at the sign it said no fires not wanting to be told off again after breaking the camping rule in the hunuas. This left out hunting as I gave up my pot and pan to save weight back in Ahipara. And there had been weed spraying throughout the area making a vegetarian dinner out the the question too. As the night rolled in this became a test of will, the big fat birds sang near by, rabbits frolicked by my well hidden tent and eels swam. My brain thought of all the ways I could get around this fire thing but in the end I ate muesli bars and sipped at my tea from behind my cover while the wild life went about their lives uneaten.
The next day was a big one, the trail notes saying there wasn’t a designated track and the guy who dropped me off telling me how hikers wander onto his land all the time because of it. I was determined not to be one of them after my last off trail adventure. Getting my head into the game I put on my bamboo glasses and began the 7 km trek. The markers were surprisingly good and trail easy to follow but come lunch time I turned on the gps just to see how far I had gotten and it said I was off trail! I panicked what? How? But?
I swear I never saw a turn off, I took a breath looked at the map and figured that if it was the trail I was supposed to be on then it would follow a ridge back towards my destination. I would continue walking for a half hour and see if I was right. Luckly it was the case, I may end up starting a cult to the orange markers. Always trust in the orange markers!
Along the trail was a lot of supple jack and I was tempted to take some to fashion a supple jack frame but I knew better then to try fix what isn’t broken and carried on. Further on I saw pig sign as I stepped into where it looked it had been laying I could feel it’s body warm on my bare feet. An unexpected and slightly disturbing advantage to walking barefooted and I saw a hare the size of a dog!
Coming out of the forest and back onto more road walking I figured I would hitch hike to the nearest camp site. The guy who picked me up recommended a place in was in miranda so a little off track but it did have a hot pools so I wasn’t complaining.
Getting to Huntly the next day I began the climb over hakarimata, the locals use this range for fitness carrying heavy bags up as they run up the stairs to the lookout. Seeing them run by me in a singlet and running shoes made me feel over dressed. I felt sluggish getting to the top, it was still early in the morning but I wasn’t really motivated to walk. Over looking the waikato river I sat with my first kawakwa tea on the trail and tried to get myself in the zone.
Alone amongst the tangled roots I began to think about my walking technique. The water bottles tied to my pack were a real aid swing against the bamboo frame this brought my attention to how unstable I was. As I held myself more upright the swinging stopped only the sounds of the birds and the rain softly hitting the leaves like a giant tent could be heard. I placed each step with certainty and I began to float my way across the uneven track. Aside from the straps digging a little into my hips I felt no real pain or exhaustion. It was more like controlled falling then tramping. By the time I arrived in Hamilton later that night I was back in the groove.
Currently I have taken another detour to rotorua to talk to some folks with bushcraft expertise but that is a story another blog (the next one I swear).