Up around 0600 with Tom and Mick this morning - however by the time we had chatted, had brekkie, looked at some nearby whio (blue duck) etc, it was almost 0800 before we hit the track. Today's GPS data is here.
Mick commented that there was a little stream just below the hut that contained some whio and took Belinda down to show her. B managed to get some shots, although the light conditions at 0650 weren't all that favourable! Its great to see these endangered birds existing happily up here - Whin and Whiona would be happy!!
We didn't know how far we would get today. The DoC time for Waihaha to Hauhungaroa Hut is stated as 7 hours (about 13km and a 400m ascent overall) and we hadn't been going much faster than DoC times generally. We also knew Kirstine Collins had done it in just over 4.5 hours in wet conditions - on that basis we were thinking that it might be a night in Hauhungaroa Hut.
So we set off back into similar forest to yesterday with our rain gear on again. For the very first time, I brought out my bright orange Icebreaker hiking top - I wanted as much orange as possible (we had heard some deer roaring, a couple of distant gunshots and helicopters ferrying hunters!!) and I knew I would have to take my raincoat off at some stage because of the heat.
We were actually making really good time through a mix of forest and terrain types, including the odd grassy clearing thrown in. There was a reasonable amount of up and down but today seemed to be a day where we just took it all in our stride?! It was apparent that we would make Hauhungaroa Hut in good time - in fact we arrived there exactly 4.5 hours after leaving Waihaha Hut - we were very pleased with ourselves!!
We decided that we would have no trouble carrying on down and out of the forest onto Mangakahu Rd - this would have the added benefit of making our final run into Taumarunui the next day more manageable. Anyway, having reached Hauhungaroa Hut in beautiful sunshine, we decided to have a good lunch break - staying for a hour. The hut is newly built and is a fantastic facility. It reminded us of Pahautea Hut on Pirongia, although this is smaller, being only 8 beds. Anyway, we fueled up, dried out, topped up our water and got the solar charger out! Then it was off "down the hill".
From the hut, we still had to climb some more - up to nearly 1000m, before dropping down a ridge to the head of the Mangakahu Valley and eventually onto Mangakahu Road. Although, as you will see from some of the photos, "road" is a bit of a misnomer, at least at the start of it!!
Just after we climbed over a big steel gate (no other way through) we came across Michael, a member of the whanau who obviously own the land around here - we had a pleasant chat and he offered us a ride into Taumarunui. As with all these generous offers, we had to decline! We walked a couple of km down the road before finding a spot just off the road to pitch the tent for the night. There was a loading ramp there and I think it was used for turning trucks as the road we had come down was not suitable past this spot, and the first farmhouses were close by. We had some local goats standing on the loading ramp looking at us as intruders for a while but they soon took off into the trees!!
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"!!