Day 54 (Sat 2 Dec):
Tongariro Crossing National Park
Distance covered today: From Macrocarpa Cafe in National Park for second breakfast, to Pipers Lodge accommodation, to Station Cafe for lunch, to the Four Square for bananas (their own meal category), back to Pipers, to Macrocarpa Cafe again for dinner (vegetarian pizza, roast vege salad and maple syrup and banana dessert pizza).
Pain in the head status: Early morning headache eased off; a very long sleep might have been the cure.
Word of the day: Rodomontade, vain boasting.
Plans to do the Tongariro Crossing were cancelled today due to a deteriorating weather outlook and sketchy transport options. A lack of international tourists has seriously thinned the track transport operators so we weren’t certain we could get a lift from the end of the track to National Park. Instead, the holiday park owner dropped us off there in the morning. It turned cold, wet and miserable so we were glad to be in a cafe eating breakfast burgers not climbing the Devil’s staircase in a downpour. But then it cleared up and the threatened thunderstorms never eventuated and we wondered whether we could have done it after all. But no regrets – we ate lots, put our feet up and dodged the rain.
A major reason for no regrets is that I must have done the Crossing at least 20 times before so I am very familiar with what it looks like up there. I’ve even been over Red Crater twice in a day – trotting from Mangatepopo to Oturere hut for lunch (there were pancakes on offer) then back to Mangatepopo in the afternoon, where I was on duty as the volunteer hut warden. Those were the days. Thus ends my rodomontade about past exploits.
Day 55 (Sun 3 Jan)
The circuitous Te Araroa
Word of the day: Kaitieke, a small rural community south of Taumaranui that I’d never heard of. Translated it means ‘to eat the saddleback bird’. Germane to these pandemic times, during the 1918 Spanish influenza, nearly a quarter of the Maori population in Kaitieke succumbed to the influenza virus.
Check out this map of the TA trail – when walking to Owhango from Taumarunui, we passed a road that would have taken us to Kaitieke in 25k (a day’s walk). Instead, we spent two days walking to Tongariro, and would have spent another two days walking across the park, then it’s yet another day from National Park (where we are now) to Kaitieke, which is tomorrow’s destination. We even walk north for a while, which feels like we’re going backwards or around in circles. Other words to describe this section could be serpentine, meandering, lost or tortuous. It will be a relief to get to the Whanganui river, which also meanders in wide loops but at least has a southern exit point.
It will take us a week to walk to Whanganui town, and apparently there is little or no cell phone or internet service until. All going well, there will be a flurry of updates to this blog just over a week from today. I’m looking forward to some fine bush walking and lots of cultural and historical sites of interest along the Whanganui River Road. We toyed with the idea of paddling or cycling the River Road section but in the end decided to stick to our boots. They’ve done us well so far.
Question of the day: Is this a scam? Or a joke?