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  • Writer's pictureJenny

Days 103-107 Waitomo to Ongarue

Day 103 ~ Walked: 16 km ~ Start: Waitomo ~ End: Te Kuiti (km 888)

We started out at 7am and were straight into climbing hilly farm paddocks. The heat and mugginess even at this time meant we were pretty sweaty straight away. The rock formations were quite cool though.

One paddock we came to had three young bulls in it, one of which was quite agitated by us. He was growling, pawing the ground and look set to charge. He was between us and the stile we needed to cross so we gave him a very wide berth skirting around a fence line. We got to the stile and to our dismay saw the gate there was wide open and the next paddock was full of bulls as well. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire. Luckily though grumpy bull didn’t come after us, and his mates in the next paddock weren’t as bothered by us.

Didn’t pause for bull photos but here are some cows

We climbed up and down more hills of paddocks and little pockets of native bush. We were excited to come to one paddock of flattened ground and short grass as it made the going a bit easier for 5 minutes.

Flat paddock up ahead

Summitting another hill

Another nice section was a flat path through a beautiful kahakitea stand.

Coming down through a baby pine forest (looking like a Christmas tree farm) we kept hearing gunshots echoing around the valley. I’m pleased we were now out in the open a bit more and visible so hopefully not about to be an inadvertent target.

Our first view of Te Kuiti in distance

We also crossed paths with the first nobo from Bluff, Josh. No wonder he’s the first - he was doing massive distances and was doing our two days walk in one day.

By the time we came to a road crossing 5km out of Te Kuiti, we decided to take the road into town instead. We were over going up and down hills for the day. Once we got to the busy SH3 we were pleased to see that the roadworks up ahead had traffic lights operating which meant we had a nice clear run of no cars coming towards us when that light was red. Then we could safely wait out when the bunch was released on green. Then as we got close to the lights a worker came to collect us to safely transport us through the work zone. We felt like VIPs. And this ride then took us to the outskirts of the town.

Hold the traffic we’re coming through

With our road walking and vip transport we arrived a bit sooner than anticipated which was perfect as we were meeting Dad and his friend Ruth who had driven up from New Plymouth (a 5-6 hour round trip with road works) to deliver our next food parcel, and have lunch with us. Thanks dad and Ruth- very much appreciated.

It was good to have the afternoon free to shop for our fresh food supplies and figure out how we are fitting our next 5 days food in our packs. We are staying at trail angel Sue’s house. We called into her shop in town where she gave us her house key and told us to make ourselves at home. She is so welcoming and friendly or really did feel like being at home.

Day 104 ~ Walked: 23 km ~ Start: Te Kuiti ~ End: Bog Inn hut, timber trail (km 961)

We were very excited to start on the timber trail today after deciding late the previous night we’d skip the bits between Te Kuiti and Pureora. We’d heard nothing favourable or enjoyable about what we’d be missing. It was largely road walking and an unmaintained gorse and blackberry covered riverside ’track’ that most got lost on.

Te Kuiti statues

Our first hitch got us into Benneydale where we sat down for a coffee and snack from the coffee cart. The second hitch got us 4km from Pureora so we walked that to the start of the timber trail.

The trees at the start of the trail are spectacular in size. They’re what’s left from the original forest as the harvesting didn’t get that far. Walking instead of cycling gave us more time and opportunity to admire them. There were rimu, tōtara, miro, mātai and kahikatea.



Along with the abundance of established trees was a huge range of birds. We couldn’t see many of them but their was a constant stream of tweeting calling squawking chirping and singing.

We stopped near the highest point and actually had a view of Lake Taupo. It was a lot closer than I expected.

It was another hot cloudless day but we were kept cool in the forest. Even when we started climbing I didn’t get hot as the gradient was so gentle. This is the first day since Christmas I didn’t get all hot and sweaty. It was such an enjoyable day.

Kas had warned us there was no water at our nights hut so we checked out all the streams on the way to top our water up. The best one had the slightest trickle but we managed to get enough.

Bog Inn hut turned out to be as appealing as its name. It was interesting from an historical point of view and it did even have a mirror.

It was cold and dark inside, and perhaps because of this I had a great sleep. I actually slept about 14 hours. From when we arrived, till waking for tea, then straight through from there till about 8am. I didn’t think I was that tired but clearly I needed it.

It was known for its rat and nice problems, but the poison laid around must have fixed it. Although I did wake up with a fright thinking a rat was near my head, but it was just my power bank with its cord (tail) hanging out.

Day 105 ~ Walked: 20 km ~ Start: Bog Inn hut ~ End: Camp Epic, timber trail (km 981)

We lounged around on waking in no hurry to leave as we knew it would be an easy 20km and shouldn’t take to long. We even stopped for a snack only 2km in despite not being hungry or tired, just because it was a nice spot and we could.

We’d been noticing all the improved drainage works that had been done since we were cycling this track two years ago. Soon enough we came across Bill who’d we’d met last time. He works full time on maintaining the track and has done the last 12 years along with his offsider who has just retired at age 78. Bills signed a contract for another 6 years when he’ll retire at 80. He loves his job as he says everyone he chats to each day is happy. He’s doing a great job and soon I imagine there’ll be very little mud in winter.

Yesterday’s features were the trees and today it was the bridges. Incredible engineering but also now so much more appreciative of them. Seeing the height of the gully’s they span and happy not to have to be climbing up and down them and crossing the river in between.

We’re glamping tonight at camp epic. It truly is an epic camp. Best showers around - spacious, modern, great pressure and a view up into the trees. We had a proper bed in a big tent, got some washing done, and wifi was available.

It was a very social setup with communal cooking and eating facilities with quite a few things provided including marshmallows for the camp fire.

Heidi and I - the men were to cool for toasting marshmallows

We met and chatted to everyone there including a lot of cyclists doing the Kopiko east cape to cape egmont event, as well as timber trail cyclists including NP couple Heidi & Chris.

Day 106 ~ Walked: 25 km ~ Start: Camp Epic ~ End: camp no 10, timber trail (km 1006)

Again we were in no hurry to leave camp and made the most of the breakfast included facilities.

Today’s feature was the granddaddy of all bridges. Docs highest longest bridge ever. So impressive. We spent ages on it just looking down. Amazing to be so high above the tree canopy and large trees too. I loved seeing the birds eye view of the Kereru flying around a long way below.

Spot my reflection

Another hot day and I was feeling it a bit more today with a lot longer stints in the open. The cuttings through the hills were very cooling though.

I stopped to cool my feet in a small accessible stream. We topped up our water here as well (before putting my feet in, in case that’s not obvious) in case our campsites supply was inadequate.

The whole length of the timber trail has great information signs covering everything from the trees, birds, Māori culture, history of the logging operations and associated village life. We’ve pretty much stopped and read all of them.

Lucky we did top up our water as the campsite only had a large puddle where the stream was supposed to be.

Camp #10, shelter and table plus toilet

Day 107 ~ Walked: 16 km ~ Start: camp no 10 ~ End:, Ōngarue (km 1022)

We woke to another hot sunny day with access to water on our minds. I had about half a cup left to start the day and get me through to next accessible stream. That ended up being about 45 minutes away so we were quite relieved.

We were the first ones on this part of the track for the day and were fascinated with the range of bird and animal footprints in the dust. Lots of three pronged prints that I don’t think were kiwi, but there were so many variations in size and style kiwi may have been among them. The same for the animals, a range of hoof prints.

We crossed another high bridge with the remains of the old bridge down below.

The main feature of today was the spiral. Quite an engineering feat in its time.

Track passing under track above

After lunch the heat started getting to me and I’d got through most of one litre of water I’d taken on board this morning. We’d been expecting to come across more streams for topping up. So we started looking in earnest. Although there were quite a few running streams unfortunately they were all very inaccessible.

There’s a stream under those weeds and blackberries

By now my litre had well gone and I was starting to worry.

When we were a few km from the end and a kind cyclist we were chatting to offered me some of his water. I poured it into my bladder and eagerly anticipated the first sip - but nothing. I still don’t know what happened or how but the water had disappeared. There was a small dribble on the ground but my pack was dry. Gerard was giving me sips from his periodically but his was just about out as well.

Finally we made it to the end and a drinkable water supply. I jammed my finger opening the door to the shelter and just about burst into tears. Not from the sore finger but the frustration, relief of arrival, and sheer exhaustion of the day. Starting the day with a water deficit and then only having one and a bit litres of water on a 30 degree day while walking 16km in the sun is not recommended.

The shelter at the end of the trail has been specifically put here for TA walkers. It’s great - mainly on account of the water, but is quite new so feels nice and clean. It doesn’t have beds but is quite spacious. And the wonderful camp epic guys who have their hq nearby have let us use their wifi. We thought we’d actually just sleep on the floor on our mattress instead of putting up our tent.

Rehydrating with my water bladder

Soon after we arrived six Kopiko cyclists turned up to stay. It’s been great chatting to them and they were all more than happy for us to be on the floor while they camped in their tents.

Day 103 ~ Walked: 16 km ~ Start: Waitomo ~ End: Te Kuiti (km 888)

Day 104 ~ Walked: 23 km ~ Start: Te Kuiti ~ End: Bog Inn hut, timber trail (km 961)

Day 105 ~ Walked: 20 km ~ Start: Bog Inn hut ~ End: Camp Epic, timber trail (km 981)

Day 106 ~ Walked: 25 km ~ Start: Camp Epic ~ End: camp no 10, timber trail (km 1006)

Day 107 ~ Walked: 16 km ~ Start: camp no 10 ~ End: Ōngarue (km 1022)

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2 commentaires

Darlene Westrupp
Darlene Westrupp
31 janv. 2022

Another fabulous blog Jenny. I'll bet 12 months ago you would not have though of saying "an easy 20k today that won't take long" !! 😍

31 janv. 2022
En réponse à

So true!! We did a couple of 20km walks for our ‘training’ (without packs) and I had to lie on the couch for the rest the day to recover.

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