Twig Adventures

Day 29: First for the New Year and on top of the world

December 31st Whatawhata (km816.5)- Pahautea hut, Mt Pirongia (km848.5) Mileage: 20mi/32km We got an early start this morning at 6:30 a.m. to ensure that we could make it to the mountaintop hut by the end of the day. It looked like a steep climb up Pirongia. We wondered just how many people would be up there. Best to get there reasonably early if we wanted a bunk. The brand new hut sleeps 20 people. The morning road walk flew by and shortly we were on farm tracks. This morning’s petting was of a goat in her little goat hut. They are great for mowing the sides of the road. We spotted 2 backpackers up ahead who had the distinct profile[…]

Read more

Day 28: In and out of Hamilton

December 30th Ngaruawahia (km781)-Whatawhata (km816.5) Mileage: 22mi/35.5km It was a good night at the Arrow Lodge, after just a bit of noise from Friday night revellers died down. Days of the week have little relevance to a thru-hiker but we have begun to focus on where we will land for New Year’s eve. I did some hiker math in the morning to determine we could make Mt Pirongia summit and the nearby hut by Sunday night. But we needed to do another big day, plus resupply in Hamilton. The walk to Hamilton followed the Te Awa River Ride the whole way. This a paved multi-use path that is just splendid. The local communities have spent a lot on improvements of[…]

Read more

Day 27: Good paths and views fueled by soda

December 29th Rangiriri (km746)- Ngaruawahia (km781) Mileage: 21.8mi/35km There wasn’t a firm plan today but I hoped to end up in the Hakarimata range for a nice, natural campsite. The morning was spectacular: cool, calm, and gorgeous clouds. We crossed over the large Waikato River again, which was glassy calm. Mike assures me it is rare to see it so calm. There was an outrigger canoe paddling under the bridge. It was so quiet that we had a chat with her. Everyone says hello to one another here. It was a very pleasant walk on the stopbanks today. We were in the town of Huntly in no time at all. We got off trail to go across the bridge towards[…]

Read more

Day 26: Follow the River

December 28th Mercer (km721)-Rangiriri (km746) Mileage: 15.5mi/25km Today was pretty straightfoward: Follow the river until the pie shop. There is a lady that makes and sells legendary hot pies, plus free camping behind her place. Toilet provided courtesy of NZ local government…more on this later. It was an interesting night in the beergarden. They closed plenty early at 9 p.m. but then the volunteer fire department alarm went off aroung 11 p.m. I actually thought it was part of my dream and didn’t even fully wake. Mike mentioned it in the morning and I could just barely recall it. I sleep really soundly in my tent these days. I even slept through all the blinking Christmas lights strung around the[…]

Read more

Day 25: The detour

December 27th Repeater Hut and campsite (km686)-Mercer (km721) Mileage: 21.8mi/35km The section of the TA in the southern Hunua range is still closed because of a slip and land rights issues, so today was going to be mostly all road walking to get down to Mercer. I’ve been struggling with whether to get a ride through this part or to just walk the country roads. It would depend on the quality of the roads and if an opportune ride was offered. Most TA walkers are skipping the entire section from Auckland down to Hamilton, a couple hundred kms. But not me, I just keep plugging along. The day was perfectly clear but I already knew it would be because I[…]

Read more

Day 24: Back into the bush

December 26th McNicol Rd (km664)- Repeater Hut and campsite (km686) Mileage: 13.7mi/22km plus extra 2 km going to visit Hunua falls and following wrong trail. It was raining lightly when I woke up in the morning. I made coffee and breakfast, thinking it would let up, but it only starting coming down harder. I’ve stopped checking the weather forecast because it’s been so nice. Besides, there is nothing I can do about the weather. But I did check to find it was calling for cloudy skies with a touch of rain all day. No kidding. I packed up everything inside my tent, but didn’t want to pack the tent in the rain. Then I remembered that there was a dry[…]

Read more

Day 23: Christmas hiking, drive-by-shootings, and trail magic

December 25th Puhinui Stream (km634)- McNicol Rd, Clevedon (km664) Mileage: 18.6mi/30km This was one Christmas I will surely never forget. It started out just fine, packing up my tent in a beautiful meadow near the stream and then following the stream on a nice gravel path for a few kms, before breaking out into an industrial area. I found a gas station just in time for a bathroom break. I haven’t had need of my trowel for a long time now. Walking through the industrial areas in South Auckland on Christmas morning was kind of surreal. Everything was closed and there were no cars on the road. It felt like the zombie apocalypse. Oddly, there was one guy on a[…]

Read more

Day 22: The eve

December 24th Auckland (km602)-Puhinui Stream (km634) Mileage: 20mi/32km I had breakfast and one last shower, then bid farewell to my Auckland trail angels. Nina was driving James to Clevedon to start the trail from there, but I still had a section through the city to do, plus sections around the west side and airport. I was a bit concerned about camping options around where I would end the day. James described the area as a “hood”, hence his reasoning for skipping it. But I ignored this probably sound advice and did the whole section anyway. I walked a few kms from James’s house to pick up the trail at km 602. This was where I previously left off my first[…]

Read more

Day 20: Auckland is waiting

December 22nd Long Bay (km568)-Auckland CBD (km595) Mileage: 16.8mi/27km So a few nights back, I thought I heard kiwis (the bird) screaming in the night. They supposedly make a pretty horrid sound. You’re more likely to hear one than to see one, since they are nocturnal. But now I’m certain it was pukekos making the noise. They seem to be everywhere in NZ, but especially where there are fields. This area was chocked full of them. I noticed the night before that they had chicks nearby. Like many birds, the adults make a big racket when an intruder gets too near, trying to draw it off. These birds seem to operate in big family units, with many adults and teenagers[…]

Read more

Day 21: A day for R&R

December 23rd This being my first day off, I didn’t do a whole lot. Denis texted me at 0730 am that he was bringing my stuff over to me. Wow, what a guy. I was so excited to see it. He brought all of it too, so I was able to better organize things. I replaced my broken stake and pulled all the things for my bounce box. Nina and James went to take some pictures on One Tree Hill with their new camera, while I had an important date with my nail clippers. After they returned, we all left to go to Christmas lunch at James’s parents. They live in North Auckland and it actually gave me anxiety traveling[…]

Read more