Day 61: Otaki Forks (Parawai Lodge) to Waikanae

Distance travelled today: 24 km

Total TA distance covered: 1610 km

Out of the Tararua’s.

Distance wise, another long day. Not much to write though. I don’t think I even took any photos. Today was just going through the motions to get off the range and into town.

It was just us at the hut last night. A major land slip blocked car access into this area quite a while ago and this usually popular summer holiday destination was deserted. Access has not yet been restored.

From Parawai Hut we had to cross over the Waiotauru River on another swing bridge and follow the road for a couple of kilometres before climbing. A steep climb that got the heart pumping and had me saturated in sweat by the top. 350 metre gain over 800 metres. At least the track was switch backed and not straight up and down.

The major feature of the day was Pukeatua, an 800m hill that we had to climb over, some 5 kilometres away. Most of the major climbing was done for the day and the trail lead up and down along the main ridge line. I think Sarah was determined to make town today and she set a cracking pace. The ridge was ok. Quite a bit a of mud to get through but not too steep.

On reaching Pukeatua I found 3G reception and had a look at what accommodation was available in town on my ipad as wecwere yet uncertain wherecwe might be staying. There wasn’t a lot. No hostels, a property to pitch a tent a couple of kilometres out of town and a holiday park about 4 kilometres out of town. If we reached town today, which was the intention, we would be staying in town itself, close to food and beer, and transport for Sarah tomorrow, not staying out of town and having to walk in and out.  I found a hotel an booked a twin room.

On top, Hokey Pokey & Slips met up with us and we all started the descent down. Those two are always chatty and it was great walking together. Conversation always makes the walking easier.

The climb down was steep and starting to bring back memories yesterday but it wasn’t as long. A section passed through private property and was really well constructed. The private was a muxture of native bush and some pine plantation. I could smell the pines before we got to them. This trail stood out as the perfect descent trail for mountain bikes, pity we were on foot.

Just after 1pm we finally reached the end of the trail and came out at a river, where we had lunch, sitting in the shade. Having walked 15km already there was another 10 km to go on bitumen into town. Just across the other side of the river was a carpark with quite a few cars, indicating that lots of people use the local area and many of them would we travelling back into town.

We unanimously decided that if we could get a hitch in we would take it but it would difficult with four. Hokey Pokey & Slips went on ahead and managed to score a ride in the first 100m from the car park. Lucky. For Sarah and I it was the road at least for now.

Around 500m down we road an old fella pulled up and offered us a ride for 4k down the road to a property he was visiting. We took it. 4 kilometres closer. Turns out the old fella was a beekeeper off to collect his hives. He is also the property owner of the section of trail that we passed through with the pines. I thanked him for allowing access and he was more than happy. Having constructed the track he was happy that it was being used. I told him, without a lie, that it was some of the best trail we have walked on.

Dropping us off we still had quite a ways to go, another couple of hours walking on bitumen roads to Waikane. I couldn’t get a ride and just walked.

Reaching town we were buggered. I desperately wanted a coffee but it didn’t look like there was much around. Dropping packs under the shade of a tree in a park I pulled out the ipad to locate where out hotel was and saw that there was meant to be a coffee shop close by. Where was it? Apparently right acrosss the right. And so it was, a car parked in front covering our view of the sign on the fence. No decision making required, we picked up packs and headed straight over.

Coffee’s done we walked up the main drag on the way to the hotel scoping what might be open for dinner. There was talk right through yesterday and today of burgers, chips and a dark porter beer. We saw a pizza place and passing it ran into Slips & Hokey Pokey inside waiting on there order. We would come back here later for dinner and run into Jurgen walking back to his camp with fresh groceries for a big cook up. The priority for now was a hot shower. On to the hotel it was.

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