We were aided and abetted by not one but two aunties to get us here a day earlier than expected.
Aunty Barbara had wanted to say goodbye to us so Aunty Audrey drove us in to Te Kuiti after another scrumptious scrambled egg on toast breakfast a la Karla. Aunty Audrey took us through Poipoi which was a lovely little town with award winning cafe and motel. It was also a testament to community spirit and endeavour. There were so many voluntary supported facilities there in a town of less than a thousand. We saw a bowls club, tennis courts, golf course, playground, community hall, museum, St John ambulance, scout group, voluntary fire station, opportunity shop (charity shop), and senior citizens club just as we drove through main street. We had a little tour around Te Kuiti too with its 4 public toilets and hospital on the hill (built out of town to prevent infections like TB spreading?). Again a really nice bigger town. Te Kuiti has a strap line “where legends are made” as this is not only the place where the world champion sheep shearers come from but also where the all black legend Colin “Pine Tree” Meads ( and his lesser known brother Stan) come from and still live.
Aunty Audrey had told us a little bit about life on a farmstead when she had grown up. It sounded like they had to be pretty much self sufficient and it was pretty tough but an immensely enjoyable life. She simply loved this King Country area and whenever she had travelled became homesick to return.
Her dad had got the farm as a returning serviceman after ww2 through what was known as ballot blocks offered by the government to servicemen at a discounted rate. They were shown a number of farm blocks but weren’t guaranteed which one they would get, any farm stock or machinery also had to be paid for so a lot became mortgaged to the hilt. Audrey told us about riding to school on her horse and leaving it in a paddock all day quite happily until it was time to ride home. Everyone helped each other out and looked out for each as they were in it together. She also admitted to killing a chook (chicken) belonging to her daughter in law when riding over it on her quad bike (which she still rides and I think she is well in her 70s) and hiding it and hasn’t told her daughter in law to this day.
We had another breakfast at Barbaras of ham sandwiches and home made peanut cookies with a cup of tea, served once again on china cups, small plates and serviettes. Delightful. Karl, her grandson is coming over to England in March and I gave her my address for him just in case.
Aunty Barbara decided to come with us for a drive to drop us where they had picked up Karla yesterday, this would leave us about 40km from Pureora camp so a 2 day trek along roads. Not sure how it came about but a combination of them having not driven this way from a long time and it being nice to have a look again, together with suggesting we go to the next junction or just to top of the next hill we ended up with only about 17km to walk rather than 40!! I think they did it to help us out but made out it was what they wanted to do.
It was really touching saying goodbye with hugs and they insisted on watching us head off ” into the sunset” with us turning around several times to wave goodbye as they were still there watching us.
Karla said they had taken to me and had said to her what a really nice man I was. Really Sweet and of course accurate!
Karla almost had a crisis when realised she’d left her mobile phone on back seat but she managed to stay composed and get hold of Audrey on my phone to ask her to post it to Taramanui, about 5 days away.
Having shaved off a days march it was still tough going along the road margins, it was hot again and a real drag on the state highway where time just seemed to stand still. My left foot “knuckle” is getting more sore but it eased a bit when I put anti inflammatory gel on it. It was my king of the road domain so i kept ahead of karla but gave her time to catch up when I rested.
Finally got to camp just before 5pm, so we’d walked for just over 5 hours. Camp is nice, tables and fire grates, long drop and water (6 dollars fee), only one other site taken (we found evidence that Brian had been here as there were 2 laminated TA maps stuffed into frame of a sign here. We had a brew to help forget the road walk ordeal and start looking forward to next 3 days in this large national park area where the early indications are we’ll see a lot more bird life. Already seen a couple of the rare native parrot, the kaka, fly past. Just glad it didn’t kaka on me!