Taumarunui (km1076)-Mako stream 42 traverse (km1112)
As promised, Glen of Blazing Paddles met us early at the holiday park and drove us into town. I got some cash to pay him for the trip and we discussed what boats we could use. He said he had some Necky Looksha sea kayaks, which I hope is the case. He dropped us off at the beginning of the road walk out of town. It was nice to have some company again and the country road was one of the most pleasant I’ve hiked, even if it was drizzling rain. We passed a beautiful Clydesdale stallion, who was very friendly and not even afraid of my umbrella. Then we came upon an ostrich, which paced us along the fenceline. I’ve never hiked with an ostrich before…only on the TA. Speaking of only on the TA, I’ve been hoping for the chance to see a commercial sheep shearing operation in action. Staying in the woolshed a few nights ago really piqued my interest. I’ve since walked past a few shearings taking place but didn’t want to intrude. Today we stopped to have lunch in front of a farm. The farmer, Steven, came out to say hi and kindly offered us water. We went inside his house to get the water and then he offered to let us watch some shearing! He somehow read my mind, because it’s kind of a strange offer otherwise. We went into the woolshed where Kurt was just learning how to shear. Poor guy, I think he was pretty nervous with us watching him. It’s hard enough wrangling an animal that doesn’t want to be touched. Steven, a very experienced shearer, did one just to show us how it’s done. He was so fast. So now I know how the process goes and why the woolsheds are designed the way they are. On the TA, you get to learn many aspects of New Zealand culture and industry, which makes this such a unique experience. Thanks to Steven and Kurt for letting us drop in! After the road walk, we began the 42 traverse, which is primarily a mountain bike and atv trail. It was an easy walk and the surrounding bush pleasant. Thick bush. The volcanoes we are headed for. A dragonfly hitchhiker…so big I could almost feel the extra weight!
We were aiming for a campsite around 37 total km for the day. We came to Mako stream at about that mark and began hunting. I followed a side trail about 400 meters up to a pretty flat spot, deciding that was good enough. We were careful not to pitch on the road, since we had noted some fresh tire tracks. Good thing too because right around 8 pm a truck rolled through. He was going really slow, with dogs and a freshly killed boar in the back. Good on him. We were quite surprised, but not as surprised as he probably was to see us with our weird-looking shelters. Connor has a Hyperlite tarp that’s all white and flashy. He’s brave to face the mossies and sandflies exposed under that thing. I’m all about ultralight but need my comforts too. A tent it is. Even as I write this, the mossies are SO loud outside my tent, almost at everglades levels. Yoikes!
By the way, I wanted to share a story from Connor’s first day on the TA. He flew into Auckland, walked outside the airport and immediately started the trail. You’ll recall that the route goes right past the airport. Once he got into the neighborhood of South Auckland, a police car intercepted him. The police told him it wasn’t safe to walk through the area and gave him a ride in the police car to the Botanical Gardens. You’ll recall that this area was where I was shot at on Christmas day. Connor was following in my footsteps only days later and the police apparently took the incident very seriously! But they never told Connor the full story. All this time he had been wondering what was so unsafe about NZ that his first day in the country should be so alarming. Finally our two experiences came together and everything made a lot more sense to him. LOL, what a way to begin the trail!