I was away from the hut by 7.30am having carefully studied the map to make sure that I did not miss the turn off onto the long closed secton of the Hikikiwi track. From the hut the track is almost immediately steep, rocky and wet and I moved very cautiously. I found several more cages protecting the Dactalanthus and took a photo of what I hope is the flower. The track climbed up over two small peaks and at the top of the second one I found the track I needed still very obviously marked with a "Track Closed" sign.
After about 500m I found the first of the old trail makers and these were relatively frequent. The only time I was in any great doubt was when I climbed onto a rocky outcrop that was covered in ferns with no obvious exits. It turned out that it was almost straight up that I needed to go. The ridge was well defined as the sides fell away sharply and this also made the track easy to follow. Eventually I reached a sign saying "Lookout Point" and about 10 metres beyond that was another fork in the track that I had needed to find. The old signs had been pulled up were still obvious. Here I headed down the more southerly of the two tracks. This track was considerably harder to follow - the ridge was wider and more of the track markers were missing. Thankfully hunters still use this track occasionally and had added pink and orange ribbons to help clarify the course. It was still fairly slow going however. By the time I reached West Pirongia Rd I had traveled about 5km in a similar number of hours.
After a brief rest and a phone call from my boss, I set off down the road which offered lovely views west to Kawhai Harbour. I crossed onto Kawhai Rd and soon met Steve Scott, a farmer who was out spraying weeds on his quad bike. I asked him about filling up my water somewhere and he pointed me towards his mum's place. I had only just arrived and introduced myself to Dianne when Steve arrived and I found myself invited to have some lunch. In the next paddock there was a building site cleared and they explained how they had recently purchased a place in Hamilton for removal. They were having some difficulty with the removal contractor getting the job done unfortunately. The previous Sunday night he had apparently appeared on television in regard to being a suspect in the Mona Blades case. I hope it all works out for them.
I had a short stint on a highway and the heat had melted the tar which then stuck stones to my shoes. Soon enough I was back onto country roads though. Between Honokiwi Rd and Mahoe Rd there was a few kilometers of newly marked track which followed an old dirt road through bush and was cool and shady. About 7.30pm I arrived at Peter and Denise Jeffries place and was invited to stay at their "Bach" which was a small one roomed hut set in a clearing beside a small creek. It was only about 1km out of my way and I was glad I accepted rather than staying in my tent. It was getting close to 9.00pm by the time I arrived however and it was getting quite dark down in the valley.
Tuna for dinner again. My wife sent a text saying she was at a barbecue. I would love a steak. Today has been a big day and I had been a little worried about the descent from Pirongia. I think being alone make be nervous and cautious and for some bits of the track it would be nice to have a companion.
Today I saw Tongariro for the first time.