The 42 Traverse was a pleasant start as the Tongariro Alpine Crossing loomed ahead.
Here’s the latest video as we enjoy the 42 Traverse and then camp on a mountain!
DAY 33 – Taumarunui to 42 Traverse
Tom and I woke up at the Taumarunui Canoe Rental company. We had camped there with many other hikers. At 7am we all met in the office for a canoe safety briefing. Fellow hiker John was there with a new group he was hiking with. The canoe people provided us with coffee, which is what drives Tom; he looks forward to any opportunity to have coffee.
The safety briefing was exciting as we will canoe down the Whanganui River in less than a week! After the briefing we planned out the five days of hiking and before we’d start our canoeing. The staff member told us most people need at least six days but we stubbornly stuck with five and booked the canoe. We had to book a few nights at campsites on the river ahead of time since canoeing down the river is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks (or river in this case) so it is a very popular route amongst tourists.
With our canoe all sorted, we were finally ready to hit the trail a little after 9am. The next 22km consisted of a gravel road winding through extremely hilly farmlands. We climbed up into mountains with steep farmland around us and native bush. I found it rather pleasant and beautiful, though a bit boring. The weather couldn’t decide if it wanted sun or rain so we got both on and off.
There was also an unusual ostrich sighting. I’m not sure why someone had an ostrich on their farm, sharing space with horses.
By 2pm we had reached the tiny town of Owhango. There was a brand new cafe in an otherwise empty town. I had a scone, falafel wrap, and nachos. It was heavenly and I was stuffed by the end of it all. It’s rare that I actually feel full on the trail. Tom had a falafel wrap as well and some more coffee. I also used the opportunity to go to the toilet and charge my phone. So far on the trail, I have not had to poop in the woods yet. I’ve always found a cafe, privy, or public restroom. Tom finds this ability of mine ridiculous.
Back on the trail we left town and followed another, more rugged four-wheel drive road through the woods. We were in the bush now on what is known as the 42 Traverse. I am told the route is an old logging road that gets its name from the original State Forest 42. We are just a few days from the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, another Great Walk. So exciting things ahead!
At some point I got ahead of Tom and he never caught up. We didn’t have a specific spot to camp this night so at 6pm I set up camp at the first opening in the woods I found. It was nice and relaxing to be done a bit early. With my tent pitched, I felt the urge to use the toilet despite my earlier effort. And so I finally answered nature’s call in the midst of nature.
Once inside my tent I fell asleep for a brief nap. I was wiped from our previous string of big mileage days. Today wasn’t a big day but I needed to recover. I finally got some energy to make dehydrated Moroccan lamb for dinner and ate some cheese. I realized I bought two blocks of the wrong size of cheese. Instead of the small blocks, I was carrying two medium blocks for a total of 1kg (2.2lbs) of cheese! No wonder I was so tired! At last I went to bed on what I believe was only my second night camping alone without Tom on this trail. It was a different yet nice experience, all the solitude. Just like the old days on the Appalachian Trail.
Day’s Distance: 34.5km (21.4mi)
Total Distance: 1,071km (665.6mi)
Distance Remaining: 1,929km (1,198.9mi)
DAY 34 – 42 Traverse to Tongariro Alpine Crossing
I thought I heard Tom pass by my camp in the morning. I packed up shortly after and started hiking. It was a chilly morning but peaceful and the sun was out.
Eventually I caught up with Tom at a stream crossing. We took our shoes off and crossed the frigid waters. It’s so much nicer and healthier for the feet to have dry shoes and socks the rest of the day.
Next it was onward and upward as we followed a four-wheel drive track through the wilderness. It was muddy at times but we could always manage our way through. The day was quite nice. There were some views here and there.
The sun was hot when we reached the forest edge. There were the remains of an old Maori redoubt fortification. From there we hit the pavement and had our first views of Mount Tongariro and the other peaks of the area.
We were nearing the entrance to Tongariro National Park. We stopped at a holiday park for water since we were empty, dehydrated, and the streams in the park are contaminated with volcanic minerals. After some candy and Coke, we set off down the road.
The next section of trail is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Thousands of tourists walk it everyday (in the opposite direction as TA hikers). The track ascends to a height of over 1,800m (5,990ft) and passes all sorts of thermal vents and volcanic activity. It’s over 18km and we knew we shouldn’t start this late in the day. Nevertheless we wanted to get ahead. The weather was going to turn midday in the morrow so we wanted to enjoy what we could tonight.
We took a brief break at the start of the track where all the tourists were awaiting buses to pick them up after they finished the crossing. I had an early dinner of cheese wraps.
Because we started so late in the afternoon, most of the tourists had left and we had the track to ourselves. It was a steep ascent at first through beautiful forest and past a gushing stream. In extreme weather the stream overflows and dangerous lahars have occurred. Tom even made up a song about lahars, or rather sang ABBA’s “Honey, Honey” while throwing the word lahar in every now and again. We were losing it.
Higher we climbed above the tree line into tussock. We could see the steam vents ahead on the mountain. The views were incredible.
We saw no other hikers and finally made the decision to make camp. I could smell the sulfur now and again from the steam vents nearby. It was a gorgeous night as the temperatures dropped; I was glad for my warm sleeping bag!
Day’s Distance: 38km (23.6mi)
Total Distance: 1,109km (689.2mi)
Distance Remaining: 1,891km (1,175.3mi)
A nice beat on this track keeps me tramping along the trail.
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