Te Araroa – Day 39

Whatawhata to Pahautea Hut, Pirongia -32km – (805km total)

The sun was shining through the clouds as we packed up our tents at The Backyard Bar in Whatawhata. As we headed out on to the trail it was a short road walk before turning to walk along side Waipa River, through farm land. This sounds idillic compared to roads, but these parts of the trail are often not maintained, so it becomes a bit of a bush bash. There was also a small marshy stream to cross. Al went first and ended up thigh deep in water, mud and reeds. We pulled her out and took the long way around.

Morning in the Backyard Bar

We walked through a paddock with a lot of fresh young cows, who did not want to move out of our way. Growing up around cows I have no fear of them, but on this trial I am more cautious of them then I ever have been, because I have heard of a few people on trail being charged by cows.

We then came out on a road again and started a climb up before we cut across fields of steep, rocky, rolling hills, with sheep for days. Classic New Zealand. I heard that after Hamilton sheep out number people. It is something like 75% of New Zealand’s population lives north of Hamilton and south of Hamilton sheep are more populous then people (someone with google can check the exact numbers of that fact).

Classic New Zealand hills. The sheep were there too, just not in this photo

After that we had a short road walk to the start of the track that lead up to Pirongia Forest. We took advantage of the picnic area at the start of the track for lunch before starting the climb. The track up to the summit and hut was 10km long and predicted to take 4-5 hours. Pirongia is the highest point on the Te Araroa up to this point topping out at just under 1000m. I thought I was going great having covered 6km in under 2 hours, but then the track became a classic New Zealand tramping track, straight up the mountain with root and mud.

Got to love a muddy forest. This was a good section!

I completely lost my shoe in one patch of mud. The shoe stayed and my foot came out. Consequently, I had to fish around in the mud to retrieve my shoe and it was full of mud, when I put it back on and there was nothing I could do about it. The last 4km to the hut took me another 2 and a bit hours to do, with the final 500m to the summit being boardwalk. However, the boardwalk ended all too soon and it was back to rocks, roots and mud for the final km to the hut.

950m elevation made it to the top. You too can have legs like mine if you hike through mud πŸ˜‰

When I finally arrived at the hut, I washed everything from my knees down. However, it was too late for my one shoe. Walking for 3km with it full of mud, ruined it. The sole is now starting to fall apart and there is a large hole in the side. Luckily, I have new shoes ordered that I pick up in about a week and a half. Hopefully, my shoe can holdout until then. 🀞

Today I am thankful for boardwalks.

2 thoughts on “Te Araroa – Day 39

  1. Your population figures are close but not exact. Stats NZ estimates the population of NZ as 4,885,500 as at 30 June 2018 with 77% (three quarters, close enough) living in the North Island. The comparable figure for Hamilton and north (Waikato north, for simplicity’s sake) is 55%.

    You are correct about the sheep, however. As of 2017 there were 27,526,537 sheep in NZ (I think they actually counted them rather than just estimating), this is about half the number of 25 years ago when we used to joke about “3 million people, 60 million sheep”. Of these, 2,341,563 (8.5%) can be found in Waikato or further north and I’d venture a guess that probably half of that number is in South Waikato which is actually south of Hamilton.

    Liked by 1 person

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