A hike through New Zealand
On leaving my wwoofing post my hosts kindly dropped me in sunny Raglan where I was immediately asked if I wanted to go surfing...now. The hostel was fantastic, with its own surfboards and kayaks to hire and a slackline out the back. I spent a few days surfing each morning and relaxing. The added bonus of the hostel was a hot tub which was great to jump into after getting back from the ocean. This is where I first had a chat with someone sitting next to me about walking the Tongariro crossing (which takes you past Mount Doom). Later that day we introduced ourselves and made a tentative plan to go walk the hike together. By the next day our party had grown and after surfing we did some planning to get us down to the Tongariro National Park.
The next day Jen, Seb, Seb and myself set out to Hamilton to pick up a hire car and head to the centre of the North Island. Our road trip took us past the Waitomo glow worm caves (too expensive) so we climbed a tree instead.
We arrived in National Park Village to stay at a soulless YHA, and found it was like a ghost town. In the morning about 20 of us were picked up and driven by a bus driver full of dire warnings about the difficulty of the hike. Our amusement grew as sign after sign warned us of the danger we were facing.
The weather was not ideal and the peaks of Tongariro and Ngauruhoe (Mt. Doom) were nowhere to be seen. The wind was pretty nippy too. We got a bit of respite near the crater lakes where we stopped for lunch and of course once we started down the otherside it became much nicer. Cue hundreds of photos and some sledging down the slope between the paths.
After Seb and Jen left us to head back to Raglan, we made our plans to try and head to Wellington the next day.
My first attempt at hitchhiking was a big fail and we ended up on the bus all the way to Wellington to stay in the worst hostel I have been in, unfortunately run by some Brits! Wellington however is a very funky city and we saw 3 different bands in two nights and ate some delicious food on Cuba Street.
My plan after the Tongariro crossing was to head south and then do some more wwoofing. Seb's was to go and walk the Heaphy Track which is one of New Zealand's 9 'Great Walks'. As I had done nothing to sort my next move out, it was decided that I would go to. This meant buying a sleeping bag and then trying to fit it into my already very full pack! The Heaphy Track is in the north-west of the South Island and quite far from anywhere. We took the ferry across the Cook Straight and eventually ended up in Takaka, in Golden Bay. After the Wellington hostel, this was far nicer but slightly amusing given there were more wwoofers than guests. In two days we did some climbing, biking and swimming as well as buy some delicious freeze dried food for the hike.
The Heaphy Track is a 4 day hike that takes you from Golden Bay, through the mountains to arrive on the west coast. The landscape you walk through is quite different on each day, and the at night you stay in the huts provided on route. Given you have to take a sleeping bag and 4 days worth of food, it is not a small pack you set off with, and definitely the heaviest I have ever hiked with. 7 other people started off on the same day as us, so each night you meet up with them at the hut, eat chocolate and play cards.
The final hut is where you finally arrive onto the west coast and me and Seb took the opportunity to freshen up and headed out for a swim. The kiwi's we were trekking with thought we were crazy! It is in a beautiful location and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset as well as our freeze dried food, having finished all the fresh stuff.
The final day takes you along the coast to where the track joins with the road, and we were very grateful to sit in a van to be taken to Rongo's backpackers for a hot shower and a meal at the pub.
After putting it off, I needed to make some plans as I want to do some more wwoofing. However, a couple of relaxing days in Karamea seemed to come first to rest my well hiked feet and knees. The amount of walking I have done in the last 10 days inspired the name of the blog - another Frank Turner song for you!
Now having parted company with Seb, I have met a couple of girls who I will drive with across to Kaikoura. Still no real plans, but this seems to be working out for me in New Zealand so far. I have been here almost a month now, but it seems so much longer. Already thinking about moving my flight further back though....