After canoeing down the river, our feet are in for a rude awakening as we take to the roads for some walking in the rain!
In the latest video we finally hike across the halfway point!
DAY 42 – Whanganui to Koitiata
After having a nice night in our cabin at the Whanganui holiday park overlooking the river, we put our packs on and headed off. It was a strange feeling wearing my pack again after four days on the river. It was so heavy with all the food.
The early morning was easy as we walked the road into town. I thought Whanganui was a charming little town. I had breakfast at Subway and found out we were going to miss the Christmas parade at 2pm. The staff at Subway told me it was a big deal.
We walked down the street to a bookstore where Tom searched for his next good read (he often carries the weight of a paperback on his back whilst hiking). He didn’t find anything.
We crossed the Whanganui River and climbed up the steps of Durie Hill. At the top there was an old tower which we climbed to enjoy the views of Whanganui and the sea.
The rest of the day was completely uneventful. We walked on the road for 30km. With two cups of coffee in him, Tom was ahead of me by a kilometer for most of the day. I lost sight of him at one point.
The roads took us across a state highway and then onto a long farm road. Tom messaged me and said he was back at the highway rest area which I missed. He’d been waiting for me and yet I was now 5km ahead! Oops.
After four days resting our feet on the canoe, I knew they’d get soft. All the road walking on my fresh feet bred blisters…painful blisters! I stopped to wrap my feet but it hurt to walk. I knew this would happen; I missed the callouses I’d been building up before the canoe trip.
At the beach I enjoyed the beautiful black sand and did my best to ignore the pain. Driftwood was strewn all over the place. I was tired from being in full sun all day and sand blew around. But the beach was better than the road.
At last I reached the small Turakina River as it flowed into the sea. I had to cross and it looked potentially deep. Shoes off, I waded into the fast and strong current. It was nearly waist deep and threatened to knock me over before I made it across. Tom caught up and I watched him struggle with the crossing as well (see the video for more on this).
From there we walked to the adjacent beachside neighborhood of Koitiata. There was a campsite for us and we enjoyed the beautiful evening. A Kiwi woman talked to me at length about hiking and the TA. She then graciously gave Tom a book to read as he hiked. How the trail provides!
Day’s Distance: 39km (24.2mi)
Total Distance: 1,394km (866.4mi)
Distance Remaining: 1,606km (998.1mi)
DAY 43 – Koitiata to Mount Lees Reserve
Not much happened today. We walked along the beach for 16km. It was desolate and the sun was out.
We weren’t sure where we were supposed to turn off the beach. A note at our campsite said to go 16km down the beach because the GPS on our apps was wrong. So we followed the directions and ended up walking through a bombing range for the New Zealand Air Force. Luckily it was not active when we passed through. We weren’t supposed to be there but were somewhat lost and didn’t care. We were tired and wanted to find the road.
From then on it was an 18km road walk. This was as boring as it sounds.
I listened to music and pressed on in the hot sun. A sat for a while when I found some shade. My blisters were hurting but seemed better than the previous day.
The road took us into the town of Bulls. There were multiple bull statues around town.
I stopped at a pasta cafe for pumpkin feta ravioli before we hit Maccas (Kiwi for McDonald’s).
After we stuffed ourselves with vegetarian burgers and fries and a ridiculously sweet smoothie, we hit the pavement.
Road walking again…for nine more kilometers. At last we reached the Mount Lees Reserve where there was a quaint campsite. A fellow camper gave us beers because she said we looked exhausted.
There was a summer house for communal use but no one was using it. The caretaker of the place talked to me about the TA a bit and said I could sleep in the kitchen to avoid the rain. And so that is what I did.
Day’s Distance: 41.5km (25.8mi)
Total Distance: 1,435.5km (892.2mi)
Distance Remaining: 1,564.5km (972.3mi)
DAY 44 – Mount Lee Reserve to Greens Road
I awoke in the kitchen of the summer house and packed up. Tom was ready as well and we set off for a day of road walking.
We walked into the town of Fielding for breakfast and Maccas and I also ate from a local bakery. We did a quick resupply at the grocery store and then hit the pavement.
It was a long, boring walk in the hot sun to the city of Palmerston North. We mostly stuck to the outskirts of the city. And then the trail took us on the most peculiar route through a cemetery.
We stopped at a gas station for ice cream and continued on, eventually hitting the river and had a nice walk down the sidewalk. Until it rained. It poured on us for a while and then stopped.
There was a coffee stand where I indulged in a milkshake and cookie. From then on I took off ahead of Tom as the rain returned.
A trail angel was gracious enough to offer her home to me and I had a long way to go to reach her before dark. Tom preferred to tent at a campsite so he went at his own pace.
The rest of the evening was just a wet walk in the rain out of town, through the arboretum, and onto rural roads. It would have been quite pleasant without the weather.
Around 8pm I arrived at the trail angel’s house. Kaydee and her husband Anton were so kind and fun. We had dinner and then two other hikers showed up. It was a great time laughing and talking until nearly midnight.
I was so happy for a warm bed and a roof over my head. The coming days were going to be tough as we head into the mountains with severe weather forecast. I hoped Tom was staying dry in his tent somewhere. This also was my longest day of walking on the TA (excluding the canoe) and also bested my longest day on the Appalachian Trail! My blisters were slowly hardening up.
Day’s Distance: 49km (30.1mi)
Total Distance: 1,484.5km (922.6mi)
Distance Remaining: 1,515.5km (941.9mi)
DAY 45 – Greens Road to Mangahao Road
I left my trail angel’s lovely abode at 7am. I could’ve stayed for breakfast but I needed to catch up to Tom; I assumed he camped ahead of me as planned. I put on my wet clothes and hoped they’d dry as I hiked.
When I was able to get cell reception I found that Tom was ahead of me by over an hour. The morning was an easy road walk. It then deviated onto gravel roads. Everything was wet from the previous night’s rain and I got a bit muddy.
At one point I passed the sign for the TA’s nominal halfway point. Because the trail changes a little bit each year, the actual halfway point moves slightly. But now I could celebrate having hiked 1,500km!
A little farther on I did cross the current 1,500km threshold and eventually caught up to Tom who’d been waiting at a shelter. I had a quick lunch as we spoke with another TA hiker.
From there we walked through regenerating pine forests and then into the native bush. It was beautiful and everything was so green. The track undulated alongside several streams. We crossed a few of them and managed to stay mostly dry.
Tom surprised me with some birthday cake he’d been carrying since town yesterday! Though my birthday wasn’t until the morrow he said it was getting too hard to carry without ruining it (he’d also eaten half already, presumably to save weight, haha). It was a thoughtful surprise.
Onward through the bush we hiked and it misted here and there. Rain was coming but we’d been lucky most of the day. At last we made camp next to a dam. I’d wanted to hike farther but Tom was exhausted and I was a bit fatigued as well; the terrain today slowed us down quite a bit.
As I set up my tent it rained and everything got wet. I did my best to keep everything dry but my old tent was starting to leak. The seams didn’t seem to be waterproof anymore so I took to duct taping them. The rain continued all night but I managed to stay dry!
Day’s Distance: 32.5km (20.2mi)
Total Distance: 1,517km (942.8mi)
Distance Remaining: 1,483km (921.7mi)
One of Tom’s favorite songs to sing. Though we hike together most of the time, we do like to separate and do things our own way from time to time.
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