847 – 898 Waitomo

The assent of Pirongia may have been wet but the descent set a new record for low speed at under 1km/hr.

Apart from the water, mud, and roots systems it was very nice though with moss covered trees and ….well, more moss covered trees. Hard to explain really. Maybe an underwater miniature of Fangorn Forest will suffice.

At one point I looked back at Ken and it looked like he was standing at the end of a green waterfall. Occasionally I could hear him yelling,”This isn’t a track!” but with more swearing.

We made it out by 1pm and headed towards SH39 in order to get to Waitomo without taking the risk of being trapped mid-route by the incoming weather.

No photos were taken during this journey so here is one of my socks drying. It will have to suffice.

Hindsight

  • People don’t take pictures in the rain. This is why travel photos look nice.
  • There are little wooden walkways in the mud. Don’t assume it’s solid earth at the end of them.
  • Keeping moving is keeping warm.
  • Check your boots before hitchhiking.
  • If it is raining Waitomo will be packed as all the people from Tongariro go to the caves.

Waitomo Map

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836 – 847 Pirongia Hut

Well, that was wet.

The morning began with a gentle walk in mild weather through some really nice forest but as we got higher the weather deteriorated until we were walking through gushing water and mud.

I stupidly didn’t put on my wet weather gear until to late and after about an hour I was cold. The track turned into a mild waterfall? It seemed like a long, long time before we reached the hut.

The hut is nice, if a little cold. I was soaked by the time I got there and it took multiple cups of tomato soup and staying in my sleeping bag to get warm again.

The plan is to stay here the night and then start down in the hopefully milder weather tomorrow.

There is nearly 20kms of road walking ahead though and some stream crossings that are marked as dangerous after heavy rain so if the weather continues then we may just hitch to Waitomo or at least hitch the road parts of the track. We shall see.

Hindsight

  • Put your wet weather gear on before you get wet.
  • Once your body temperature drops it takes ages to come back up.

Pirongia Hut Map


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799 – 836 Pirongia Base Camp

Woke up this morning to news of earthquakes in the South Island. Everybody I know seems to be OK but no news has come out of the Richmond Ranges yet.

One person I have walked with said that she was thrown from her bed on the 7th floor of a hostel in Wellington and, at the time of posting, was sitting on a hill sipping rum in case of Tsunamis.

I didn’t feel it although others in Hamilton said they did.

Good time to be heading south. šŸ™‚

About half of the walking today was road walking which wasn’t so good but the other half made up for it.

The Taitua Arboretum was a nice break (very many chickens) but the best part was the last piece of the Waipa Walk which went up through limestone hills with craggy cliffs, great views, and then down through some great forest.

Currently I am ensconced in my tent at what I am calling Pirongia Base Camp with the rain gently falling. It is only 4 – 6 hours to the hut at the summit so hopefully there will be enough of a break in the weather Ā in the morning.

Probably have a rest day at the hut. This will be the first to me my hut pass will have been used. The first of many times I hope.

Hindsight

  • I noticed that although there weren’t very many T.A. markers heading into Hamilton there were quite a few heading out.
  • There is decent water at theĀ Taitua Arboretum by the toilets.
  • The gate onto the farm from Old Mountain Road is quite hard to find. Its just on you left as you go over the ridge.
  • When you get to the start of Pirongia don’t camp down by the road like we did. If you walk for half an hour up the track there is a large campsite.

Pirongia Map


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