Lee Hewes

is totes becoming a teacher…

Te Araroa Adventures – Days 1 – 3

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So the time has finally arrived for me to start my hiking journey in New Zealand.

After flying out from Sydney, my plans are to make my way by bus or train to meet my nephew in the small town of Taumarunui.

As with all road trips/journeys, the first major hurdle is making one’s way out of the major centres. All of the people and traffic cause congestion and slow things down. I have to say, though, that the InterCity bus network here in New Zealand has so far been amazing in terms of running to schedule and getting everyone where they need to be on time.

They’ve also been very accommodating and have ensures that people are able to take all of their belongings with them, even when some of these belongings have erred on the side of ridiculousness. For example, on the first leg of my journey to Taumarunui (from Auckland to Hamilton), whilst waiting for the bus, I noticed a man applying electrical tape on one of the edges of a massively oversized box. When the time came for him to board, there was a fair amount of confusion evident in the reaction of the bus driver when he requested that the box be stowed underneath.

She agreed that she would attempt to fit it in, but said that she would need to charge an additional $10 fee for oversized luggage. Oversized is really a bit of an understatement as the box was actually longer in length than the bus was in width.

After some rearranging of luggage, shifting of the box, and even some closing of the passenger within the underfloor cabin in order to test it would fit, the box was finally stowed away. I asked the man what was inside and he informed me that it was a ‘radio controlled glider’ – quite a strange thing to take with you on a bus journey in my humble opinion.

Anyway, the bus ride was pleasant and we arrived in Hamilton on time despite initially being somewhat delayed. I hopped off and walked the short 1 kilometre straight stretch of road to my hotel, just as it started to rain. I did contemplate hiring a Hamilton city , scooter but decided against attempting it with 15 kilograms of hiking and camping equipment strapped to my back.

I picked up some supplies whilst in Hamilton, and after a good night’s sleep and a simple breakfast, I made my way to Taumarunui. This bus journey was more interesting, travelling along winding roads through mountainous, rural terrain covered in wildflowers, ferns, grass; conifers, poplars, sheep and cows, and segmented in parts by small creeks and rivers. It had me beginning to become increasingly excited (if not slightly daunted) by the hiking adventures to follow.

I met my nephew in Taumarunui to find him in good spirits and full of stories. We went across the road for a pub feed and to discuss the plan over the next few days.

Tongariro is not too far, only a few days hike from here, but unfortunately the weather forecast up there isn’t the best right now, with cold nights and potentially snowy days predicted. We’ll be OK to do the crossing, but not the additional 2 – 3 day side adventures as planned.

From there we’ll hike fore a few more days down to the Whanganui, which we’ll head down in a canoe trip which should last several days.

We also conducted a ‘shake up’ of our packs, getting rid of any extra/unnecessary gear and packing it to post to ourselves in Wellington to use later. We’ll need to wait until Monday to do that, however, which means one more night here in Taumarunui before making our way towards Tongariro.

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