Days 21-23 From Palmerston North and into the bush
Darlene’s tramping club friend Gary joined us for dinner and shared with us his photos experiences and knowledge of the TA. It was awesome. It gave us a really good feel for the upcoming Tararuas section.
We decided to go with our gut instinct to skip the more difficult higher alpine section and come back to do it when the weather warms up and we’re a bit more fitter and experienced. So we’ll only do the initial section as far as the road that exits to Levin.
Our rest day was very relaxing and productive. We got all the washing, groceries, logistics planning, food packs sorted. Also a little town outing for lunch and to swap out my icebreaker socks. I’d worn several holes in my two relatively new pairs. They were more than happy to give me new replacement pairs. Our feet also appreciated the break with only the little walking around town.
I sprung out of bed excited for starting this next section. Of our 14 days of walking so far we’d only had two days in bush. All the rest have been road or beach walking days. Darlene was walking with us today to a point then returning on her own. First up on the track was a fancy new foot bridge over the Manawatu river.
This led us over to the Massey university campus area. I was here several decades ago doing my degree and enjoyed seeing familiar buildings and roads.
There were a surprising number of bush tracks, green corridors, and little off road tracks all linking up to take is through the outskirts of Palmerston North. It was so enjoyable.
Darlene stayed with us till lunch which was well over half way. She did plan on taking a less interesting more direct route home though. We went through a large section of native bush so was surprised to come out of it to a wide open panorama extending out to the coast.
The bush was abundant with swallows, kereru, tui, and fantails who all put on great shows for us. Especially a trio of kereru who were playing tag with each other. They were swooping and diving all around us and seemed to be using us as an obstacle to shake off their mates. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get any nice photos of them so we’ll have to stick with the dead bird photos.
We arrived at our planned campsite at 3 pm. It was a nice comfortable distance today to not make our feet any worse. We relaxed in the sun with a cup of kawakawa tea before stretching out our usual camping chores of setting up, unpacking, cooking dinner, writing blog. Unfortunately we didn’t have any sausages for the BBQ. Then an extra early night - 8pm.
We didn’t have the best sleep. It was quite cold with a wind howling through the site. And as the reserve was accessible by road, several cars turned up at various times. But we woke to a beautiful sunny day.
Today was a day of milestones and markers. First up was our 300th km milestone. 10% of the trail complete!! Amazing how the kms just tick over and add up pretty quickly.
Ironically shortly after that was the sign for the official halfway mark of the full trail. Oh well, not to be for most of us this year with the flip-flopping we’re all having to do. We got the photo anyway and might pull it out again when we reach our own actual half way.
The third marker we crossed was out of the Manawatu region and into the Wellington/Horewhenua region. Now our third region to be walking in.
Beautiful lush bush for our walking today. It was such a pleasure to be in.
In between the bush was a forestry section which smelt of Christmas.
In the forestry section was a shelter - Moturimu whare specifically put in for TA walkers. We would have loved to have stayed here but we got there just after lunch and it would have made the following days to big for us to stop then. We rested a while anyway. Gerard was reluctant to leave he loved it so much.
Burttons track was stunning. The log book warned us of the mud but a few dry days meant it wasn’t bad at all.
We came across a possum hunter who lived in the bush (he said). He was friendly enough so I’m sure the hammer he had hanging from his belt was for the possums and not unsuspecting TA walkers. His dog was friendly too even though he kept trying to round us up.
We found a beautiful little clearing next to a river for our camp for the night.
I send a message to family from the plb every day when we set off and when we arrive so they know we’re safe particularly when we’re out of cell phone coverage - as we are for a four day stretch at present. It needs clear sky for satellites to pick up the signal and send. I was stressing when tonight’s one wouldn’t send even from the middle of the river with very clear sky overhead. After 45 min of trying (in between setting up camp and cooking tea) it finally went, after I took it someway down stream. Lucky we weren’t trying to send the sos call. I really would have been stressing then.
Day 21~ 0km, ~ Start: Palmerston North ~ End: Palmerston North (km 1473)
Day 22~ Walked 20km, ~ Start: Palmerston North ~ End: Kahuterawa reserve (km 1493)
Day 23~ Walked 17km, ~ Start: Kahuterawa reserve ~ End: Burttons track (km 1510)