A tough day on the Te Araroa is followed by some easy going along the beautiful Timber Trail.
Check out the latest video as we hike the Timber Trail:
DAY 29 – Te Kuiti to Mangaokewa
We left our campsite in the Mangaokewa Reserve just outside Te Kuiti. The weather was great as we set off to follow the river.
The trail began easily enough winding through the woods on a nice track. Then it became much more overgrown.
All morning we followed the winding river, walking through mud and climbing steep slopes up into the hillside high above the river only to drop back down.
The trail was not well maintained at all. It was overgrown and also very narrow, more like a goat track. The going was slow and tedious. My shoes were soaked with morning dew from the tall grass as sweat poured off our faces in the hot sun.
However, the views were spectacular. We were in true New Zealand bush. Beautiful forests surrounded us.
We stopped for a long breakfast break. We ate wraps and enjoyed the stunning view of the countryside. Large boulders and rocks were all over the hills.
Eventually we took another break on a bridge across the river. We dried our tents out as well as our clothes; everything was wet from the plants we tramped through. It was heavenly relaxing in the sun.
Onward we plodded through overgrown bush and across farmland. It was steep at times and other times easy. It was a beautiful area but difficult trail. We weren’t going as fast as we’d planned.
At one point we got thoroughly lost, having missed an unmarked turn. My skin was all sorts of red with bumps from the allergic reaction to the flora. We’d been scratched with gorse, bramble, and thistles; the trail was starting to get irritating. Tom has since stated that this was the hardest part of the trail for him.
At last we finally left the river and followed a farm track out of the bush. It was easygoing from here on out. We stopped at an empty campsite for another long rest. I hung my socks out to dry and ripped off a toenail that was barely hanging on.
Tom was feeling exhausted and I was pretty wiped, too. The terrain today slowed us down so much more than expected that we had to revise our plans drastically. And so we continued down the road.
The rest of the day and most of the next would consist of road walking. It meant a faster pace but hard on the feet. We walked on for a few more kilometers in a light rain sprinkle before stealth camping on an old forestry road. This was one of our shortest days as of late. We passed the 900km mark and have completed 30% of the trail!
Day’s Distance: 26.5km (16.5mi)
Total Distance: 902km (560.6mi)
Distance Remaining: 2,098km
DAY 30 – Mangaokewa to Bog Inn Hut
Camping on an old forestry road can be problematic when the forest in question is mature and ready for harvest. At 4:30am I was woken by the sound of heavy machinery loading logs onto trucks. Tom said he’d heard them start at 3:00am. I laid in my sleeping bag until 5:30am when I couldn’t take it anymore. We were on the trail by 6:10am.
The morning was extremely uneventful with 25km of road walking. Logging trucks whizzed past us as we walked. The most exciting thing was watching a farmer and his dogs drive sheep from pasture to pasture on their way to be shorn.
Tom and I helped a lamb get its head unstuck from a fence. Other than that, nothing happened. We were making excellent time, cruising along. We stopped for breakfast of Nutella and peanut butter wraps.
By lunchtime we had reached the Pureora Forest. We stopped at the parking area and I had pizza wraps and some snacks. There were 40 odd students there on a school trip about to bike the Timber Trail: a long cycle/walkway 88km through the forest. I got lucky when an extra muffin for the students made it my way…trail magic!
Once the kids set off, we followed suit. We were walking the Timber Trail as well through the forest. It was absolutely stunning. Beautiful New Zealand forest that pictures don’t do justice.
The trees were covered in moss and the birds sang as we walked along. The weather couldn’t decide if it should rain or show some sun.
Tom, having done extensive farm work, was excited for us to detour off the trail to see an old tractor left in the woods. I’ve never seen an adult so happy to see a tractor.
Onward we hiked through the nicest track. It was wide and an easy grade. We practically flew along.
At one point the trail notes instructed us to take a side track to the summit of Mount Pureora (nearly 1,000m or 3,280ft). Our GPS apps seemed to indicate we stay on the Timber Trail. Tom opted for the latter and I the former. Tom’s app had user comments that said the trail down from the summit was overgrown and the view wasn’t worth it on a cloudy day such as today.
I stubbornly continued upward. The trail notes can be ambiguous at times, almost presenting options for the hiker. It soon became apparent I was ascending into a cloud. It wasn’t quite heavenly, but not too chilly.
The ascent was easy and I soon was above tree line and at the summit. The view was white. And true to Tom’s app, the trail down had a sign stating that the DOC (Department of Conservation) no longer maintains the track.
I pushed through a bit of overgrown bushes and then followed the washed-out trail down. It wasn’t so bad; I’ve been on worse trails.
Eventually I rejoined the Timber Trail and had an easy walk. The sun came out, naturally, after my viewless summit.
It was a pleasant and peaceful trek to the Bog Inn Hut where Tom and I planned to stay the night. Apparently I beat him to the hut despite my climb and I enjoyed the company of several other hikers.
Tom and I haven’t seen other hikers most days so it was cool to meet some. They told me that our old friend John was less than a day ahead of us and they were surprised we haven’t run into more hikers. It seems like we will start running into some of the slower walkers in the coming days.
Tom showed up at last and was a bit wiped but all in all we had a good day. We did big mileage and were on track to get through the forest to the next town. This had worried me earlier since I didn’t pack as much food as I should have. My metabolism is too fast to ration my calorie intake when I hike. Basically I need to eat more.
All in all this may have been my favorite day so far on the Te Araroa. Besides the road walking, the track was beautiful, easy, and fun. I finally felt like my trail legs really kicked in. I flew up and down the mountain and by the time I reached the hut I felt I could’ve gone more. And it was barely 5pm when I’d finished with plenty of daylight to make dinner and chat with my fellow hikers. It was a good day as the sun set and a light rain returned.
Day’s Distance: 43.5km (27mi)
Total Distance: 945.5km (587.6mi)
Distance Remaining: 2,054.5km
DAY 31 – Bog Inn Hut to #10 Camp
I woke up after a decent night’s sleep. My tent was mostly dry from the cover of the pines. Soon we were back on the Timber Trail for a rather boring day.
The easy track wound through the woods and over some impressive suspension bridges, designed for walkers and cyclists.
The Timber Trail was now following the old railway lines that were built into the woods for logging operations back in the day. The track was wider now with much gentler curves.
It was a cloudy morning but no rain. There was a lodge coming up that was said to serve pizzas, however, when we arrived we discovered that they don’t serve food until 1pm. It was 11am. We had been looking forward to pizza all morning. Instead we had to stop for lunch at a campground. We were both running low on food and ate some wraps. I guess we shouldn’t have been counting on that pizza.
After a pleasant morning the rain came. This was the first big rain storm we really experienced on the trail. The temperature dropped and it was quite cold.
Getting soaked we hiked on with Tom feeling very cold. We popped inside a small shelter and met up with two section hikers. They were so kind and generous, offering us some of their extra food. It was awesome to find out they also were following my journey online. They had been section hiking the trail since 2017 and were slowly making their way to Bluff.
I put my rain pants on for added warmth. When it comes to hiking, rain gear usually makes one sweat because it doesn’t breathe. So hikers usually avoid wearing it until they need it, and in this cold I needed the extra warmth.
The rain stopped and the sun almost came out. We said goodbye to our fellow hikers and set off again. It was pleasant at first until the rain returned.
Onward we trekked through the wet. We reached the #10 Campsite (an old camp from the logging days) where we planned to stay the night. Unfortunately the grounds were very small and a few other hikers had claimed the available tent space. I could have walked on another hour or so and found any old flat ground to camp but Tom’s legs were chaffing badly. We walked on a few hundred meters before setting up camp at the first available flat ground.
For dinner I ate the extra food our hiker friends gave us including an amazing brownie and a dehydrated meal of Mexican chicken. I hung all my wet clothes up in my tent on a spare shoelace. My waterlogged skin had dried and now my skin was hard and flaky. My feet are not looking forward to walking in wet shoes tomorrow.
It had been an easy day with terrain but the cold rain made for quite a challenge. We’ve been very lucky with the weather up until now. Overall it was kind of a boring day of hiking. In terms of our finish date of February 8th, we are crushing it on this easy terrain. I hope we aren’t being too hard on our feet. I’m hoping the rain goes away because we have some big things coming up. Tomorrow we will get into town and have to start planning our canoe trip down a river (we have to book in advance).
Day’s Distance: 44.5km (27.7mi)
Total Distance: 990km (615.3mi)
Distance Remaining: 2,010km
DAY 32 – #10 Camp to Taumarunui
It is not fun putting on wet clothes, especially my socks. Everything was wet as we packed up but the sun was out at least.
We headed off down the Timber Trail and it was very easy going. The trail continued along the old logging railway paths.
There were deep cuts through the hillsides that were quite beautiful and even a tunnel.
Eventually the trail took us out of the hills and toward a river. It was here that we crossed the 1,000km mark! We’ve completed one third of the trail!
And so we walked on until we at last finished the Timber Trail. We ate our remaining food for lunch at a campsite and dried our tents. A French Canadian hiker named Julian joined us for the rest of our walk.
We continued on gravel road for the remainder of the day. It was so boring. The last few days of big mileage caught up to me and my feet hurt.
We did at least pass a pet deer that was very friendly. But not much else happened as we hiked along.
At last we reached the town of Taumarunui where we had McDonalds for an early dinner and charged our phones. Then it was to the grocery store to resupply before walking a few more kilometers to our camp.
We were camping at a canoe rental company on the river. They let hikers camp for free when booking the canoe trip with them. In the morning we would book our upcoming canoe trip since the trail will take us down the Whanganui river in 170km! My feet will get a rest in just a few more days!
Day’s Distance: 46.5km (28.9mi)
Total Distance: 1,036.5km (644.2mi)
Distance Remaining: 1,963.5km
One of Dolly’s more recent songs, this one is all about a train, chugging along through the mountains!
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