It rained overnight. The air was humid and many sandflies stuck to the inside fly sheet of my tent. When packing the tent it took a lot of shaking to remove them all, the last thing I wanted were sandflies in my backpack.
Linton station is a private farm that the trail passes through. Land ownership and trail access in New Zealand is unlike many other countries and at times a contentious issue. There are so many mountains and areas of land locked up by private ownership and not as much public land. Many parts of the Te Araroa Trail access private land and often there are restrictions in place, such as, No groups bigger than 8, hiking during daylight hours only, no camping, anyone found off the trail will be trespassed and asked to leave. Many owners of the lands dont want any outsiders on their lands. Many New Zealanders and visitors want to access land for recreational use such as hiking. I can see both sides of the story.
I remembered those restrictions when I set off. It wasn’t long before I was lost. Or was I. Turned out the GPS tracks from the Te Araroa trail trust and the trail markers do not follow the same path. This is nothing new I’ve been dealing with issues like this for the last 2-3 weeks of hiking. One hiker was 2km off the marked trail in this sheep station last week. He could hardly be blamed for this error. That’s when I was first warned about navigation on this section of trail. Follow the markers, not the GPS trail, I was told. But beware that there is often a very long gap between markers, even at road junctions within the station, I was told. Getting off the trail while crossing Linton station appears to be a common thing. Luckily I wasn’t too far off the trail when I found the errors of my ways.
There’s a difference between getting off trail and abusing the hospitality of the land owners. A couple of years ago hikers found the keys to a private hut then entered. They helped themselves to food and told every other hiker about the hut. Unfortunately this hut belonged to Linton station for the use of their workers. They were understandably not happy with TA hikers. They rerouted the trail far away from the hut as a result. But they still allowed access to their farm. Although I’ve only had positive engagement with farmers there are many stories of conflict between TA hikers and farmers. I’m not sure what the quick solution is but as the trail traverses so much private land I’d say a solution needs to be found quickly. Maybe correct GPS coordinates would be a quick and easy start.
There was nothing pleasing about today’s hike. It was just a transit section through New Zealand’s largest private sheep and cattle station. I struggled with water sources during the afternoon and ended up having to filter some questionable cow poo infested water sources. Hopefully my steripen works good enough.
Due to so much private property on this section of trail I stayed in a private cabin on a neighboring sheep station. Birchwood station takes in hikers for $20 a night. With many hot days recently it was great to wash off the layer of sweat. Sweat rash has been plaguing me in recent days between the legs and I’m fast running out of cream to treat it. With only a couple of days till the end of the trail my inner thighs will be glad to end the trail. As for the rest of me I’d love to turn around and keep on hiking. With only 162km (100 miles) till the end of the trail I’m thinking to do crazy long days and test my endurance levels. Only one problem, storms and high wind are predicted as I near the last high, exposed mountains.