As Day 7 was a rest day and we really did nothing but hang out, play cards and talk a whole lot of rubbish, I’ve decided to spare you all the pain of reading a blog about me slaughtering my mates in card games.
With our rest day behind us, it was time to get back on the trail and finish the Timber Trail over the next two days; with a 25km and 20km day in front of us.
Our destination for Day 8 (January 3rd, 2018) was a very basic campsite called the No. 10 Campsite (located at the 65km mark) which included some makeshift areas to pitch tents, a small shelter big enough for 4-5 people to sit in and a drop toilet.
When you’re out on a multi-day adventure such as the one we were on, this was the very definition of outdoor luxury.
Once we had left the Piro Piro campsite, the main highlight of the day came within the first 5kms – the Maramataha Bridge.
Standing 53 metres above the river below and 141m in length, this suspension bridge is said to be the longest on a New Zealand cycleway.
This is easily the best bridge on the entire trail and one you’ll almost spend plenty of time taking photos at either end.
It’s also worth noting that here, and at various other spots along the way, there will be small information boards detailing how the trail and bridges were built.
If you’re an engineer, like Matt, or enjoy reading up on the history of the place you are in, these little boards are a good read.
We had a really misty morning on that day but it quickly disappeared and the sunshine came out until later that afternoon when the rain set in.
Aside from the bridges and how well signed this trail is, another really nice feature is the green hedges/corridors/cuttings that litter the trail.
They would have been mounds of dirt at one point with the trail having been carved through it, but when you walk through them the forest is so green and dark, you feel like you are walking through a pitch black corridor.
One of the great things about going on an adventure such as ours is that you often meet people who are on a similar journey not too dissimilar to yours.
Rob, Elizabeth and Mackenzie had all been travelling on and off together on the Te Araroa trail and it was on Day 8 that we had come across them just before the campsite.
Whether you spend one day with people like this or several days, I find that you’re always richer for the experience as you get to hear about their time on the trail, as well as where they originally come from.
We spent the rest of the night on Day 8 and all of Day 9 with them finishing off the Timber Trail and heading into Taumaranui.
My recommendation for the leg between Piro Piro and the No. 10 Campsite would be to load up on as much water as you can from the tank at Piro Piro.
This should see you through to the campsite and perhaps into the following day where there are only minimal places to source water from.
Spiralling Towards the End of the Timber Trail
The final day of our journey on the Timber Trail started off like most – a little wet and misty but with a fair chance it was going to heat up.
Our first goal for the day was to find a new water source wherever we could as there didn’t look like there was an obvious spot on any map we had with us.
Thankfully, we found a decent running stream under one of the wooden bridges not far from the campsite that supplied us with water for the rest of the day.
With only 20kms remaining, and most of it downhill, we had a fairly easy day ahead of us.
The highlight of Day 9 would have to be the Ongarue Spiral – a relic of a bygone time where the area was used for the transportation of timber (hence the name).
Up there with the Maramataha Bridge as one of the more spectacular sections of the trail, the Ongarue spiral consists of a lower-level bridge, a fairly deep cutting, a curved tunnel, a complete circle track and an over-bridge.
When you get into the tunnel itself, it’s basically pitch black so a torch of some description is recommended.
Once you’ve exited the Spiral, and have taken a million pictures, you’ll continue on your gradual descent to the end of the trail.
Now, my advice here if you are heading into Taumaranui, and this is what we did, would be to find yourself some transport into town as it is roughly 30kms.
One such company that offers this service, but mainly for cyclists who have done the trail, is Epic Cycle Adventures.
Julian and his dad Paul run a really good service that offers affordable transportation from the end of the trail into town, as well as back to the start in Pureora/Bennydale.
Our accommodation for Day 9 was the Taumaranui Holiday Park which was also the location of our second food box pick up that would last us until Mount Ruapehu.
Also used by Te Araroa walkers, the Taumaranui Holiday Park is your typical caravan park that includes powered and non-powered sites, as well as small cabins for multiple people.
If you are a TA walker or are staying there, they will accept and hold food parcels for you to collect upon your arrival.
Lastly, as the distance from the bus terminal in town to the holiday park is some ways away, they will come pick you up at a designated time if you ring ahead.
This is yet, in my opinion, another example of just how kind and generous New Zealanders really are when it comes to helping our foreigners.