This, dear reader was probably the toughest day overall so far. We had to deal with everything nz had to throw at us but we made it finally to the haven of tourism that is Waitomo.
We started with rain but managed to be packed ready before 7. I did the honours of lying prostate over the muddy path by the stream to refill our bottles before getting saturated on the same path when we set off with a combined dousing of oozy mud on the feet, overhanging ferns on the legs and hips and trees for the upper half of the body to complete the immersion. We still weren’t sure it was right path which was more or less the theme for the rest of the day but somehow (no thanks to GPS , maps, trail notes, and signage (lack of) we muddled through.
It was slow going and we weren’t even making 2km an hour. The tracks were not formed (not cut level) and unbelievably steep, muddy and rooty. I kid you not there was one descent where you had to hold on for dear life to the fence otherwise youd have slid to an untimely demise. It was fantastic scenery mind you, some real back country farms and bush with spectacular views at times. Trouble was you couldn’t take your eyes of where you were placing your feet so spent most of the time looking down.
After 5 gruelling hours we weren’t even half way.
Tempers frayed during one interchange by a stream after another arduous descent.
Conversation went something like.
Me: There’s some water cress here, do you want some?
Karla: what’s fresh?
Karla: what’s fresh, the water?
Karla: you said fresh, did you mean the water is cold?
Me: I didn’t say fresh
Karla: yes you did
Me: you said fresh first
Karla: it doesn’t matter ( in that way that it does)
Me: oh I see, no… I said cress
We didn’t laugh
The going got a bit better after lunch with a better cut track but then we seemed to loose the TA trail yet again and ended up on a longer steeper one adding another 2km at least. At least this was well formed and for first time could get some speed on. Finally emerged on to gravel road which was unusually a relief to walk on and so into Waitomo, famous for its gloworm caves.
Prices almost double elsewhere in the shops and cafes. We didn’t know where to start so had cold drinks to decide. Chap came over same guy that offered karla a lift not far from town. Stan the pom had backpacker place just out of town which initially was tempting if a lift was on offer but we declined as wanted to eat and then was issue of having to walk back to town over already trodden ground.