TA Day 39, Mangaokewa Road to Ngaherenga campsite – 33 km

A cold snap was supposed to quell the rain, but King Country is the wettest part of New Zealand.
A cold snap was supposed to quell the rain, but King Country is the wettest part of New Zealand.

More and even more rain, but finally the sun is up and the sky is pink. I am starting to doubt my capacity to complete this trail if the rain and mud continue. The misery of wet feet is seeping into my soul. Thank the goddess for a respite with these trail angels, Allan and Marianne.

What’s happened to stop the rain is a cold snap, but it’s supposed to move on in the coming days. It will be a long, possibly boring day on road, but at least easy walking and no mud!

Black clouds chase me, a half rainbow in the middle as I go up a steep grade. Nope, the rain is not really stopped as it just starts pouring again, but all I can do is just keep plodding along in it.

It's a long boring walk on a country road, but the landscape is fascinating.
It’s a long boring walk on a country road, but the landscape is fascinating.
Cows everywhere amongst odd cone-shaped hills.
When the clouds finally lift, so do my spirits.
When the clouds finally lift, so do my spirits.

And then, just like that it clears. The air is cool and delicious up this high. Maybe the storms will moderate. In Te Kuiti a guy offered me a ride past all this. Marianne told me she saw me on the road and is usually the one to pick up hikers but thought this time, “Walk on!” She was surprised when Alan had me in his car heading up the hill to their home. There’s something in walking it all. You sometimes feel like hell, but then again, there’s a sense of accomplishment and invariably, things will change. It can’t rain forever, can it?

I break for food and lighten the load a bit, coming to the land of grassy cones – volcanoes? Don’t know. But later find out this entire landscape is ancient ash as well as “karst” or sandstone, creating the famous caves of Waitomo as well as cone shaped hills.

The raincoat is on, then off, on, and off again – like a bad relationship. Clouds and me, we’re co-dependent. The air is crisp as a guy passes in a 4×4 + 4 dogs. I reach the highway and have lunch against a sign.

I pass the abattoir. Yup, all those animals I spoke to in the fields end up here. But they really have a pretty nice life in the meadows until that last day. I wonder if the barefoot protester I’d heard about will walk this section.

Super nice road workers pass and pops open his door when he sees me coming. He doesn’t offer a ride, rather aksing if I’d like a piece of chocolate cake and banana! “That’ll get you to the end.”

Right after, a car stops and it’s Chloe! Yay for hiking friends. I tell her I’ll see her in town. She closes the door as it starts to rain again.

Was that really necessary?

The landscape of Waikato/King Country is "karst" meaning built on sandstone with cliffs, caves and oddly shaped humps.
The landscape of Waikato/King Country is “karst” meaning built on sandstone with cliffs, caves and oddly shaped humps.
A disintegrating pile of wood offers interest in this long stretch of farmland.
A disintegrating pile of wood offers interest in this long stretch of farmland.

I reach the Pa Harakeke and as I get inside, the heavens open full on. Somehow the trail provided and I am safely under the canopy. The gal gives me hot tea and allows me to dry out. Chloe has been waiting for me, not appearing pleased about that at all.

The rain lets up and we walk two more kilometers to Ngaharenga campsite with just enough time to set up before it pours rain, then stops again for some ‘food enjoyment.’ I’m so glad I found Chloe, even if she gets irritated fast. And then Vera and the Polish couple Maciej and Renata are dropped off and we’re five finally enjoying intense sunshine and comparing notes on the last section.

Sheep amidst backyard swing sets along the Mangaokewa Road.
Sheep amidst backyard swing sets along the Mangaokewa Road.
Seems fairly obvious at this point that I will share the road with sheep.
Seems fairly obvious at this point that I will share the road with sheep.
A totara outstanding in its field.
A totara outstanding in its field.

Vera decided it was too hard and not worth it, but feels disappointment that the trail notes give no warning and she discovers how hard it is from blogs. Chloe doesn’t bother with the river trail after a mouse chewed a hole in her tent and stole her food. The Polish couple walk it and one is injured, mostly from overuse, but share my opinion that there should be some trail maintenance. Chloe thinks we should simply assume the risk or not do it. I guess my thoughts are the trail should be at least minimally maintained, to avoid hiker injury, but also to make the trail more enjoyable.

The coming days are on a shared bike track and will likely be well maintained and enjoyable. I’m happy to be here and to have survived the river with no injuries. Funny how sunshine can completely lift the spirits. Rare kakas fly through the campsite making their ratcheting sound.

And then it begins pouring again and we race into our tents. I can sit up in the alicoop and tend to my chores like massaging my feet with the wonderful manuka balm Casey gave me nearly a week ago. Trail life is good as Chloe begins singing “What do you do with a drunken sailor?” and starts an ear worm. We are all cuddled in and it’s only 7:30, loving each ‘tent of one’s own.’ Sweet dreams.

Happily arriving at the Timber Trail and its approximate timing to walk the length.
Happily arriving at the Timber Trail and its approximate timing to walk the length.
A farmer's field scored for planting.
A farmer’s field scored for planting.
Te Araroa hikers at the Ngaherenga Campsite.
Te Araroa hikers at the Ngaherenga Campsite.

Published by alison young

Alison Young is the Blissful Hiker, a voice artist and sometime saunterer. 📣🐥👣🎒

Reader Comments

  1. Dear Alison, Somehow your pictures and writings allow me, and likely others, to walk along with you, talking to the coos (mixing countries, right on cue, sings it to us, just slightly, as those are the “cows” in Scotland), getting wet, mudded, and discouraged; when, what to our wondering eyes appear but the sun. Hallelujah! And, then, Leonard Cohen right on cue, sings it to us. You can do it, all of the infernal Te Araroa, mud or no, cuz LC sings so.

  2. I look forward to your posts evsryday. You transport me to anothsr world with your accounting in such honest and meaningful words and beautiful pictures. Thank you for taking the time to share this journey with us. It is like your words are tossed to the wind to be carried across land and sea and caught by each of us to gently hold and enjoy.

  3. The last three posts, which came all at once, were amazing to read in sequence.

    What beautiful scenery combined with incredibly bad trail conditions (not to mention the rain)! Thank goodness for the occasional trail angels.

    Thank you for sharing your clear evocative prose along with wonderful photos — it’s amazing that you’re able to post them regularly, even in this digital age. I’m enjoying being reminded of some of our NZ experiences with sheep, lush vegetation, and remote country through your accounts.

  4. JRR Tolkien’s poem for Aragorn has relevance here:

    All that is gold does not glitter,
    Not all those who wander are lost;
    The old that is strong does not wither,
    Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

    The second line reflects your journey, I think, and the rest of the poem reflects your approach to this hike. Like Strider, you have a purpose.

    Godspeed, Alison

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