From Takahue we headed east on Takahue Saddle Rd. At the 16km mark for the day we were still on gravel roads and only about 100m asl. We stopped here for lunch and to refill our water, as the Raetea Forest itself has no reliable water sources, and we needed enough for overnight and next day as well. To our chagrin, we passed several other water sources in the next few kms on Takahe Saddle Road before getting into the Raetea Forest. We should have read other blogs more closely!! The part to the lunch break had been relatively easy, but we knew it wasn't to last. The next 5 km or so eventually took us up over the 580m mark so it was pretty steady climbing to say the least!
Takahue Saddle Rd, after about 2km out so, became a rough four wheel drive track - but even up here someone seems to have put in a retreat of some kind!! Not so easy to get to and certainly no passing traffic to generate custom!!
Eventually we turned off into the Raetea Forest track itself. The first bit didn't disappoint - a fairly rugged climb from around 280m up to 580m. We had originally thought of pushing on to Raetea Peak (the highest point at 744m), which was another 2.5 km of tough tramping track, as we had read there was a possible campsite there.
However, after reaching the 580m peak we were pretty tired and decided to start looking for a spot to pitch the tent - Raetea is notorious for not having places to put a tent. It was described by one overseas hiker as a "jungle" rather than a "forest"! We were fortunate to find a spot not too far past the 580m Peak which we managed to squeeze the tent into. It was a good decision to stop, not only as we were fairly tired, but the next day showed us that there wasn't really any place else suitable before (or even after) Raetea Peak!
It's fair to say that we are fortunate to have relatively fine weather, as mud had been a real problem for other TAers this season. Not that there was no mud - just much less than others have experienced - it would certainly have been much more challenging in wetter weather. :-)
It is a beautiful forest to walk through and, even when completely knackered, and slogging away on gnarly uphill stretches, its hard not to appreciate the amazing landscape we have here in NZ - and how little of it most of us have really seen. Photos never really do it justice, but we hope it gives you a taste at least.
Belinda and Anthony (aka Tony) Hadfield made a decision, in their late 50's, to do something a "bit different" and walk New Zealand's 3000km Te Araroa Trail over summer 2015/16 - although updates will now tell you that this plan will take longer now!!. As the old saying goes - "don't leave home 'til you've seen the country"!!