Today we had arranged to meet Franziska at 0845 as it wasn't a huge day ahead. After some photos with some Asian tourists (who I'm sure thought we were mad walking in misty weather!), we got underway from the Chateau just before 0900. Today's GPS data can be seen here:
The entrance to many of the tracks, including ours, was about 400m up the hill, after which we headed into the bush consisting primarily of beautiful beech trees. It had rained overnight so we expected a bit of water and mud underfoot. As always, the further you get away from the main centre (Whakapapa in this case), the more the track standard tends to reduce!
The day involved heading on the Whakapapaiti Track for about 6.5km before heading off west and north on the Mangahuia Track for about 7.5km, with a 6km road walk to National Park village to end the day. Walking through the portions of beech forest was great, but a lot of the day revolved around walking through wetlands and drier tussock land. When I say drier, I simply mean it wasn't a swamp but we were still walking a lot through muddy, wet tracks which made it challenging at times! The first part to the Whakapapaiti Stream Bridge was not so bad, involving a bit of up and down, but once past that it was primarily downhill!
Once over the bridge and on the Mangahuia Track, the conditions did worsen a bit - by now we already had very wet and muddy shoes so it didn't really matter but it can be difficult walking through mud occasionally up to your shins! Some of it we could just keep out of by walking along the side of the deeper bits but other times there was no choice but to walk on through :-) After about 2.5km of this track we had to cross the Mangahuia Stream. This can be quite dangerous after heavy rain - even with the rain last night it was flowing fairly fast but with caution we all got across safely. There was a nice open area just after the crossing so we stopped for some lunch.
The rest of the track to the Mangahuia campsite near SH47 was a mixture of boggy areas and slightly less boggy areas (!!) although there was an improvement in the track as we got closer to the camp! As noted earlier, the final stretch was a 6km asphalt road walk into National Park - arriving around 1600 from memory. Franziska had booked into Plateau Lodge but they couldn't accommodate us so we ended up round the corner are The Park hotel/backpackers for our planned zero/rest day tomorrow. Franziska came around and had dinner with us before we all retired for the night - looking forward to our day off tomorrow!!
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"!!