Left the bach at 7.30am and took half an hour to climb the 200m back to where the track left the Jeffries farm and headed into bush on the neighbouring property. The next section of track has only recently been put in and was most enjoyable picking it's way through reasonably open forest until it arrived at an old farm track. From then it was nearly always on clay roads - some in good condition and some fairly poor. I pulled my shoes off to cross a stream which was about 6m wide but mostly ankle deep. For a couple of kilometers before reaching Ngatapuwae Rd the farm track was in excellent condition and I made good progress.
From the start of the road it was 5km to Waitomo Caves township. On the way I passed the caves themselves which had about 10 buses parked outside as well as vans and cars. I wonder if they have 400-500 people underground in the caves at once? I stopped for lunch at the pizzeria that is part of the Kiwi Paka YHA and stayed for over two hours chatting to customers and staff out on the deck. Simone Bannister and Julia Parker from Australia were nearing the end of their New Zealand holiday and had visited the caves the day before. The trip they had taken did not sound as exciting as the one a German safety engineer told me about though. Britta Lietke had done the "Rap, Raft 'n' Rock" trip through the caves and it had involved abseiling, rafting, swimming etc - it almost made me want to walk back and give it a go.
I had planned to have an easy day and stay here, but Waitomo Caves seems very expensive so I headed for Te Kuiti. More roads and sore feet again from many kms of new chip seal. The day grew progressively more overcast as I walked and it was raining lightly by the time I arrived which was most refreshing.
Having done some shopping I decided a steak was in order so I went to Wheels Restaurant for dinner before ringing Don and Anna from Casara Mesa backpackers who picked me up from the main street and will drop me in the same spot tomorrow. At the backpackers I met three Swedish women and we talked about things they could do in Picton and the South Island next week. I was sharing a room with two Irish school teachers, Wilis Treacy and Anite McCarthy who had been in Africa and Asia over the last four months and were looking for some cheap things to do up north so I suggested some of the places I have particularly enjoyed so far.
It is raining heavily now but I am well feed, showered, my washing is done and I have a bed to sleep in. Maybe it will stop before I have to walk again in the morning.
Morning at the bach.