Before I started this adventure I was lucky enough to have bumped into a guy who made a lot of traditional Maori bush craft in Wellington. After telling him what I had planned on doing he gave me his number and said if I ever was in Rotorua to come visit him at a place called Te Puia. So I felt it was worth the detour and hitched from Hamilton to see him.
Not only was he surprised to see me (because he thought I was joking about walking New Zealand) but the other tourist at Te Puia ended up thinking I was part of the attraction (so I got a lot of pictures taken of me). Dion was a great teacher, sharing stories of our experiences making stuff we had a lot in common. And he inspired me to take more care in making stuff not just quickly knock together something that will work today but take the time to make stuff that will last.
Here is a picture of the kind of work he does at Te Puia.
So with the improved packframe made I headed back to Hamilton to change my out my pant straps for flax straps. And turning a pant leg into a day bag which was handy for keeping things in I use everyday.
In Hamilton I hung out with some like minded people who let me pitch my tent in their yard and even had some books on edible wilds to widen my vocabulary. And was lucky enough to be joined on my journey up Pirongia by Cliff and his brother, they where both guys who really enjoyed hiking and it was great having them up the mountain as they seemed in their environment.
A long the way my straps broke so as always I had to fix stuff but the view from the top of the highest point I had been so far was super rewarding. It was also at this point that I started to notice I turned heads. Barefooted walking and wooden frame means I get a lot of comments up on the steep rocky tops. The north had less people on the trail so the more popular trails lead to interesting conversations about what I am up to.
After spending the night in my first hut on the trail I parted ways with Cliff and began my decent down the other side. I was lucky enough to get a ride off the road walk and found myself hitching to Te kuiti to fix my stuff for the four day forest section. I found a belt to add to my pack at an op shop this stopped the straps I had made from digging into my hips and found a wool jumper which I cut the sleeves off to use as feet warmers if I encounter snow. The weather cleared and I found a guy to drop me off at the next bush section through Pureora forest.
This had been my favourite place so far. The wild life, the old forest and the terrain made me speechless. I really dug deep to make the track times but as I moved deeper through the trail I felt great once I found the hut I was supposed to be at by days end. I am seriously coming back here!
This has been the hardest lesson about the life of a long distance hiker, hunter gathering has really suffered in order to make the trail times. I will continue to carry my stuff in the hope of taking opportunities as they arrive. But it may mean taking on a different challenge after the walk that focused less on making distance and more on living in our natural environments.
. This may not be exactly how I imagined life on the trail to be like but so far I feel encouraged to keep going.