We were on the road again around 0800, again not sure how far we would get. We only had another 400m of gravel road from Mandy's to were we headed off into the bush track.
As you can see from the gps track here, we did a fair bit of up and down again today - a major down, then up, in the middle (into and out of the Waiwhiu Valley was pretty hard going (especially the long uphill slog up Fisher Rd, a forestry track, for me - Belinda mostly goes uphill better than me with my spindly Hadfield legs!!!)
A bit like yesterday, while we only did just over 13kms, it felt like a lot more especially as it was again pretty hot.
We started with an approx 100m (vertical) climb up towards Conical Peak, mostly on an old 4WD track. We eventually turned off this into DoCs Totara Scenic Reserve. This was quite nice bush to walk through although, from memory, we didn't see huge numbers of totara!!
As you can see from the gps track, we descended slowly along this track initially before descending steeply down into the Waiwhiu Valley and crossing the Waiwhiu Stream (dry feet crossing!)
Again, the gps track shows we climbed 150 vertical metres in 23 minutes. It was too steep for a comfortable walk for me and I ended up having to take lots of micro breaks on the way up to rest the leg muscles. Belinda was definitely faster than me up here. Its worse than climbing through bush in that it is just relentless 4WD forestry road walking up an even, steep slope - suffice to say I was pleased to reach the top eventually!!
We then had a 1.3km walk through mainly bush alongside the stream (although that too was a little up and down - nothing major. Then it was back across the stream (again managed a dry crossing) and up onto Waiwhiu Rd (metal forestry Rd) for a very short hike to Fisher Rd.
Then it was a short forestry (pine) walk before heading back into some nice podocarp and broadleaf forest (DoC's Dome Forest). There was a pleasant couple of hours of relatively minor ups and downs before saw "The Dome" ahead of us. Unfortunately, getting there involved a 100 vertical metre descent followed immediately by a 120m ascent to get to the Trig atop The Dome!!! As they say in NZ, why go around when you can go straight up and down!!
We stopped for a little while at the Dome - at this age we had decided we would probably stop at the Dome Cafe rather than carrying on with some more of the Dome Cafe to Puhoi section. We were a bit more relaxed at this stage as we only had about 1.5km to go to the cafe!! At this stage we could also hear the hum of traffic on SH1 as we also about 150m higher than SH1 where it passes the Dome Cafe. A bit of a change from the relative quiet of the more remote bush walks!!
As always though, the punishment wasn't finished. We saw a smaller peak ahead of us and said to each other "surely they won't take us up there before heading down to the cafe?". You know the answer of course - and down and up we went again!! Down 100m, up 50m, down 30m and up 30m before the final 100m descent to the cafe!!!
It all sounds rather pitiful but, again, after the days earlier uphill slog(s), I for one was well and truly ready to see the end of the uphills - even though they were relatively small in the grand scheme of things!!! I get softer as the day goes on I think. B is better on those uphills but does get more tired than me towards the end of a longish day - so the nett effect was we were both happy to call it a day at the cafe!!
About 1km from the bottom we got to a nice viewing platform - from there the track was a veritable (relative) superhighway down to the cafe (although still pretty steep in places!). They obviously encourage walkers up to the lookout from the cafe with beautiful steps on the steep bits and a well formed and surfaced pathway.
I must say at this stage that we were very fortunate to know that we would be able to stay with Mo and Grant in Warkworth and that Mo had offered to pick us up from wherever we got to - more "trail angels" to help us on our journey!
When we got to the cafe, about 1530 we tucked into a sizeable meal and some nice drinks (well-deserved we thought!). We rand Mo to let her know that we were there and she kindly came out, picked us up and took us back to their place.
We were treated to a lovely meal and a nice comfortable bed which made for a good night's sleep. We also decided at that stage that we would borrow some day packs off Mo and Grant and attempt the approx 28km walk from The Dome Cafe to Puhoi the next day. While we are not in peak fitness by any means, not having to carry the full 12-14 kg packs all the way would make it more "doable" for us we figured.
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"!!