The sky showed off hues of pink and gray. I was first to wake and first to start hiking on the flat and easy 4wd trail. I slept so well last night, if there were any mice in the hut they didn’t seem to be interested in my food or the bags the other hikers had lying on the floor.
After 10km I took a toilet break at a campground and really wanted a second coffee but the ninja sandflies appeared from nowhere and attacked me. Usually strong wind is enough to blow them away but not today. Today they wanted my blood. I’ve mentioned sandflies on numerous occasions during this hike. And yes they are much worse than I’m making out. They really make an amazing day in the great outdoors downright miserable. Sorry New Zealand, maybe you should add sandflies to the list of animals you are trying to exterminate. It should be easy to do. Just list them as an exotic species that blew across the Tasman from Australia and poison the little buggers. Please.
I followed the dirt road for the next 20km as the wind picked up to near gale force. This kept the sandflies away and allowed me to simply make some miles through the rolling farmland. I put on my headphones, listened to music and let my mind wander. I started to think crazy thoughts. The speed record, or fastest know time for the Te Araroa trail is about 74 days, self supported. Which means thru hiking the same way I do, without the aid of others to cook meals, pace runners, cars at trailheads with food and water etc. I’m less than a week from finishing so maybe I’ll finish in 116 days or so. I’ve taken 13 rest days and I cruised through the north island at a leisurely pace. The south island is much harder and slower but I’ll finish it in around 48 days. If I lightened my gear to freaky ultra light levels, planned my resupply and transits between the islands and had some luck with the weather I know I could come close to that sort of pace. It’s a relaxed 40km per day average. The crazy thoughts one can have when thru hiking. Or are they crazy. Of course they are, I’m no athlete.
10am photo below
With all my daydreaming finished I set up camp near a stream on the side of the road. The next hut was 20km away, that would have made a 60km day. Too far for me, I’m not breaking any records today. Besides I’m feeling rather tired at the moment.