We spent Christmas wading in the mud. It is a normal thing in New Zealand – just when the sun is not shining, the mud is falling instead of snow. I woke up around six o’clock and as usual I was a bit reluctant to get up. This Christmas morning I wanted to call my family when they were sitting at the Christmas table (it was almost 7pm in Poland). It was the first time that I was not at home for Christmas. Well, they envied me my trip, and I was so jealous of their table full of great food (especially pierogi)…
We left Waitomo quite late. We’ve never had so much food to pack, so it took a while for us. Pasta, noodles, chocolate, crisps (we pinched little holes in the packets to let the air out so they take up less space), peanut butter, tortillas, nutella, candied fruits, sunflower seeds – 12 Christmas dishes, and instead of the hay under the tablecloth – leftovers of grass in socks. It was supposed to rain, but we tied ourselves to believe in any weather forecast except that which is just at the given moment. That’s the only one that works in this country. And it was the same this time – it was cloudy, but it was not raining. We said goodbye to three merry Britons who stayed the day at the hut and we started the Christmas stage to the Mangaokewa Reservoir after Te Kuiti.
This time, instead of walking on the roads, we were only crossing them. It started classically from thick bush, which meant mud and wet shoes to start the day. Not to mention some ferns behind my t-shirt. After some time we crossed the stream on a footbridge and entered a small but beautiful nature reserve with soaring trees. It is a pity that it was such a short walk.
Then again similar things. From pasture to pasture. Up and down and up again. Over the fence and through the gate. In the meantime, a break for bush or forest and back to pasture. The weather was generally stable, even quite promising. We took a lunch break and as soon as we moved on, suddenly the clouds arrived and started being a bit noisy. To make the situation worse, we were just about to go up the hill. Couldn’t it have rained a bit earlier? Well… We took a moment, watched the clouds and decided to go up. The cloud seemed to move a bit further. In the end, it caught us anyway. We passed through the airstrip and had a view of two rainfalls from there. One in front of us, the second behind us. The other one caught us as we were on the hill. It came, made us wet and went away. Again, we observed the clouds (because it started to thunder) and continued to wander through the pastures.
Finally we arrived at Te Kuiti. The town was very empty, it was Christmas at the end. We did not count too much on any open shop, but the gas station was working and they did not even have crazy prices! As usual, we bought ourselves two bottles of Fanta and while seating on a bench we were eating crisps and staring at the street. Almost all the cars I saw then were driven by Maoris. White New Zealanders were sitting at home celebrating Christmas.
We moved further towards the campsite. We left the road just outside the city and entered Mangaokewa Reserve. The road initially wound along the river, after some time we walked a little higher and finally it felt a bit like in the mountains. The view of the valley in which we had to delve was amazing. We came closer to the water and followed the trail through the forest. The route was quite well maintained, from time to time we passed a small picturesque stream.
It was getting late. In the end, we saw a cable footbridge and a campsite on the other side. That was our goal. We arrived after 7pm. We looked around a little and set up the tents. For dinner, pseudonutella and tortillas. Holy moley, how sweet it was… a decent sugar bomb. Two rats were sniffing around the campsite (if Michał would be writing it would have been mice), so I secured my food in case of unwanted guests at night. It’s going to be a difficult stage the next day. It’s better to have a good sleep.