We set off this morning about 0810 having removed a fair amount of gear from our packs for Gill to take to our next stop in the car! The distance today was 35.5km of asphalt road walking in sunny, hot conditions which ended up taking over 9 hrs including a number of stops for rest in the shade! GPS data is here:
All of today's walk was along the Wanganui River Rd, which follows the river, more or less, for the whole day. There were not too many hills so we managed just over 10km in the first 2hr of walking. 5 minutes before the two hour mark we came across a historic site - the Kawana flour mill and cottage - so took a 30m detour for a look around, taking a break for about 30 minutes or so. We were there for about 15 minutes when Gill turned up! She had been expecting to see us by then and also saw the sign for the mill and decided to stop for a look!
The scenery along the road, like the canoe trip, is beautiful. It is mainly as a result of the geology of the area (i.e. the papa) which creates stunning steep cliffs and narrow, deep gorges through which all the waterways run. The road itself is often cut into the side of step papa hills and with all the rain (including the June 2015 floods) it has caused lots of areas of subsidence and rockfalls. This meant we were passing roadworks and narrow sections of road often! Not long after the mill stop we came through Matahiwi where we stopped to converse with several alpaca that were just standing around grazing on the side of the road! Gill was here also - at this stage Franziska decided to stop using walking poles, so put them in Gill's car.
The next 2 hrs saw us cover almost another 10km, stopping for lunch near Koriniti Pa in the shade of a tree! The day was hot and cloudless which meant we were getting through a fair bit of water as well. We walked on, but found we were slowing a little as the heat forced us to take more breaks in the shade - as the sun rose there was virtually no shade on the road and, being asphalt, the conditions were quite testing!
The landscape was slowly becoming slightly less steep as we moved down river, with more farming land in evidence now. Stock were generally looking pretty good along the way. About 26km along we came across a little campsite set up alongside the road. Included was a tap attached to an artesian water supply! As we were getting very hot and a little short of water, this was a godsend! We stopped in the shade for 20 minutes or so and drank lots of cold clear water.
Franziska was feeling the heat and also her injured foot, and soon after made the decision to try and hitch the last few kms to our stop for the night. About 2 minutes after that who should turn up on the side of the road but Gill! She must have read our minds - she had decided to drive back and see if we needed cold water for our last few kms! So Franziska hopped in the car for the last 7km while Belinda and I headed back onto the hot road. It was about 1600 by now but the sun was still pretty hot. The last 7km or so did seem to drag a little but eventually we arrived at Rivertime Cottage about 1730 - about 4km south of Atene Pa.
There was a little 2 person cabin which Belinda and I decided to take to save putting up the tent, while Franziska took a spare bed in the cottage that Gill, Kevin and Greg were staying in. The long hot day was over - the good news was that left us less than 30km tomorrow to get to our destination in Wanganui! Seems funny to be talking about this being an easier day - although again having some of our gear delivered to Wanganui in the car will help! Franziska's foot is causing issues on the hard roads, so she will make a decision in the morning as to whether she walks a little way with us in the morning and gets Gill to pick her up on the way past - or whether she just gets a ride all the way to Wanganui with Gill.
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"!!