We left the hotel at around 0745 this morning - again, today was a relatively easy day with relatively flat walking (if you check the gps track in Movescount - link below - you will see that we ascended a total of 18m and descended 19m during the whole day!! Can't get much flatter than that!!!). We ended up doing around 21km today, although only 17km of that was on TA - the rest was detour for resupply and to the campground.
GPS track is here.
We started off by reversing last night's dash across SH1 and getting back into the roadworks!! Then it was across the single lane Rangiriri Bridge onto the western side of the river (SH1 continues down the eastern side).
Most of the first 10km or so was on tracks alongside the river (including more stopbanks). This bit also included a trip through the Huntly golf course - luckily there were no golfers in evidence as we were close to fairways and tees at times!! We did meet a cute dog here who followed us for some time. He belonged to the greenkeeper who was mowing fairways on the tractor. I guess the dog is used to hikers coming through!! Then it was more riverside walking although we did skirt around, on road, the dump site for the ash from the Huntly power station.
Eventually we got back onto the side of a rural road that took us on to the Huntly power station and to the nearby Sculpture Park - the main feature of which was a large water feature with sculptures representing the 1995 Treaty of Waitangi settlement for Tainui.
Then it was onward to Huntly West (still on the opposite side of the river to Huntly township). Coming into Huntly West I had a car pull up on the other side of the road. I assumed he was checking to see if we were lost - turns out he was the one who was lost and asked if we knew how to get to Glen Murray Rd!! Luckily with all the modern technology at hand I was able to point him 16km back up the road - he had missed a turn straight after coming across the bridge from Rangiriri!! Roles reversed for a change!!
Found a dairy here for a well-earned drink and ice cream, before carrying on down to the rail bridge over the river into Huntly. Initially we had thought we would have to go another km further south to the road bridge, but there is a walkway across the rail bridge which was nice. At a small set of shops before we crossed over we came across a couple unloading stuff from a car - turns out he was a maori traditional medicine practitioner so we had a chat about that subject for a while!! This was the point at which we left the trail proper, and where we would come back to when heading for the crossing of the Hakirimata Range to Ngaruawahia.
Once over into Huntly we had to divert south for a couple of hundred metres to stock up at Countdown supermarket before heading north back into town. Then it was across an overbridge that took us over the railway and SH1 and then another km or so north up to the campground. In town, just before crossing the overbridge we stopped for a feed in a local cafe. As we came out, a lady from a car came up and said "are you Tony and Belinda?" - it was Carol, the lady managing the campground, who I had been speaking to the previous day about the booking!! She said she would catch up with us later when she was back at the camp.
We had booked a small cabin, initially for two nights as we had planned a rest day in Huntly. Rest days are not only a chance for R&R, but also to stock up the stomach on more substantive food!! The campground is owned by the Waikato District Council, is very well maintained and is in a lovely spot. Carol and Dave who manage it are lovely and very helpful - as noted above, we had already run into Carol in town before we got here!! The cabins have a special rate for TA hikers and worked out no more expensive than some campsites charge for putting a tent up ($20 per night per person). A great deal for us - and a lovely spot for a good night's sleep!!
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"!!