It was January 2nd, 2016 and our trek was well and truly back on track after the drama of the previous day.
It was great to have Keith back in our company and everyone’s spirits had lifted knowing that we would continue on.
Up until this point, the weather had been incredibly kind to us with every day being bathed in sunshine.
However, day seven treated us to nothing but rain and miserable conditions as we hiked the 9km Waihaha Track back to State Highway 32.
To prevent what happened over the previous few days from happening again, we made a plan to stop for lunch on the corner of the main road and Te Putu Road.
So regardless if any of us were walking slower than the rest, we had a designated meeting point where we would all have lunch together.
A small tip for walking on the side of the road in the pouring rain – wear bright colours. This helps you remain visible to cars.
This can be in the form of the clothes or even a brightly coloured pack cover. You should go one step further and incorporate reflectors as well.
After getting back out onto the road, the plan was to walk a further 20kms or more and find a place to camp for the night.
As there was no other alternative for accommodation, the side of the road was our only option and this is where the reccy mission in May 2015 worked to our advantage.
As I already knew there’d be no designated campsite or motel, it was important to have a few free camp options up our sleeve.
I’d marked out 2-3 suitable options, however, each one would affect how many kilometres we’d end up doing the following day.
So, it essentially came down to one question: did we want to do our last 30km day today or tomorrow?
If we hiked 30kms or more today, it would be the last time we would do it.
Our spot for the night was the last option on our list and was 21kms down the road from the end of the Waihaha Track.
It was on soft ground, amongst several pines trees, and we had to jump a fence to get to it.
While free camping isn’t exactly frowned upon in New Zealand, you don’t want to get caught camping on private land, especially without the owner’s permission.
Furthermore, you don’t want to be camping on sacred Maori land either.
With that in mind, once I had picked out our options after the reccy mission I ensured all three weren’t on private land or Maori land.
We arrived at our spot at about 5:30 pm and were in bed by about 6:30 pm after having some dinner.
As we hadn’t dealt with the rain up until this point, we didn’t have to worry about drying out our clothes.
However, we were soaked and it was incredibly hard to dry them whilst it was still raining outside.
Keith and I were using the same tent for this entire trip, as was Matt and Nelson. So Keith and I took it upon ourselves to organise a nice little surprise for the following day for the others.
What it was and why we did it will all be revealed in tomorrow’s blog.