It rained quite heavily in the night and then again in the morning. About 8.00am it stopped so I packed up and set off. By 9.00am I was at the entrance to the track along the stop banks which told me it was 18km to Rangiriri. The stop bank was hard to walk on as it was badly pitted from cattle hooves. But it is still better than the road and I was glad to be on it.
For much of the journey the Waikato River is not particularly obvious despite it?s size. Being large it flows very quickly and often the view to it is obscured by trees. It is however an impressive river and I couldn?t help but be moved by some of the vistas the river affords. I noticed a number of 40-50cm long "Goldfish" in it, I guess they might be Koi Carp.
Just past the halfway mark I was making my way across a paddock looking admiringly at an E type Jag that was driving north along the road when it pulled over and stopped. It was in fact Stewart Mitchell (who walked the North Shore Coastal Walkway with me) who was heading north after winning his section of a hill climb and he took the back way just in case he saw me. It was great to catch up and he filled my water as an added bonus.
Eventually I made it to Rangiriri and walked north a little to visit the Pa site and then south a bi to visit the Battlesites Historical Centre which had good food as well as interesting information about a major battle which had been fought at the Pa.
After that I crossed the one way bridge and headed down the west bank towards Huntley. The two chimneys with orange bands painted on them at the power station marked my destination and were usually visible.
The walking was easier down this section as the grass was shorter and the ground flatter ? especially through the golf course. It was nearly 7.00pm by the time I got to the power station and yet even that late at night the construction workers were busy on the extensions to the building. At the southern end of the power station the track leaves the road and dives back into a bush reserve for a few hundred metres. In the reserve is a carved sign marking the southern entrance to the track and two other sculptures that are worth seeing.
I was headed for the Huntley Hotel and it was beginning to seem like an awful long way still. By the time I reached the railway line and turned down the street beside it to head for the rail bridge my feet were sore again. It is almost as if the skin is now so thin on the soles of my feet that the nerve endings are triggered by the slightest touch. Just sitting on a chair with my feet on the floor makes them feel like they are on fire. I don't really want to take another long break at this stage, hopefully I can make it to Turangi over the next 12 days and then go back to Christchurch and my podiatrist.
Looking forward to the Hakarimata Range tomorrow, I had tea at the Southern Cross Fisheries and the owner, Scott, is an adventure athlete and told me a bit about it. Tea was wonderful but my accommodation was towards the lousy end of the scale.
The back packers area at the Huntly Hotel featured hand made wooden bunks (which to be honest were quite comfortable they just looked badly made), net curtains only in the room, no cups for drinking, and SH1 and a railway line in close proximity. The staff were very nice however.
Stewart in his E-type Jag.
The Waikato is stunning.