Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Days 52-53: Zero Day in National Park; Road walk to Raetihi

Day 52. Spent today planning the river section, alternatives and talking with DOC, local guides and other knowledgeable people as the recent weather effects have closed three of the tracks and the Great Walk section of the river til at least Sat. I definitely did not want to sit around for the rest of the week, so we organised to get in the water at Pipiriki and out at the Top 10 holiday park in Whanganui. But this meant a two day approach march via Raetihi on SH4- about 63km all up. We reviewed our recent walking pace and decided it was doable. Time to carbo-load!
After a spot of sunbathing and drying out feet and shoes, we teamed up with Belgian Jeff who we met at Mangatepopo hut to get dinner sorted. The shopkeeper wished us well, hoping we would 'dine like kings' tonight- we should, we paid enough for the groceries! :-)
A large spaghetti bolognaise with fresh salad, red wine and convivial company made for an excellent meal and night chatting with other travellers attracted to the noise and possibly the free-flowing wine. Backpackers can be a bit hit-and-miss with the company, but the YHA today was awesome!

Day 53. After leftovers for breakfast we pointed our noses South and got moving... Today I hooked myself up to my iPhone to get some musical inspiration, thanks to my daughter using my iTunes account I have a new appreciation of Taylor Swift and Pink. Thinking ahead I also bought some walking music (old school rock).... And boy did the kilometers fly by!
36 kms in 7 hours, including a 45 min lunch break. Comes with optional blisters and old man shuffle the next morning.
On the way a lady let us know her place was available for accommodation, and she would pick up and drop off back in Raetihi town centre. We did a spot of shopping and chatting to some locals at a cafe and pub, and I even ran into an Army buddy who plied us with food (thanks Matt, and special mention to Liz for her awesome homemade fruit slice!). In short order Catherine drove in after hanging a cow, and we were crammed into her ute with two St Bernard's (thankfully the cow was in the butcher's truck). The cottage (windmill mountain lodge) turned out to be perfect- lots of beds, hot water, fireplace, and we even got homemade banana cake to eat while watching Top Gun on an old school video.
A happy ending to a hard road walk, with more to follow tomorrow! 

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