Huntly golf course 710.9km to Hakarimata Forest 734km
It was a pre dawn start. My feet were instantly wet, the overnight condensation on the grass soaking through my trail running shoes. Just over an hour later we were in the town of Huntly. The large grocery store supplied me with chocolate milk and a chocolate pastry to get me up the hills of the Hakarimata Ranges. A place well known for its steep stairs, views from lookouts and dense forest.
I’m still hiking with Swiss Michelle. We met a total of 8 Te Araroa hikers. I’d met all but 3 of them before. We all had different plans on where to camp.
10am photo below.
The Hakarimata Ranges are popular with passing tourists and locals from the nearby city of Hamilton. Tree ferns and palms meet old forest. The initial climb is on a graded path with stairs and many rest places with views and bench seats. Once at the top the trail becomes a tramping track with exposed tree roots, mud and slippery sections. The degree of difficulty increased slightly when the heavy rain turned to hail. There was little opportunity to take photos in such weather.
A couple of scenic but slow hours later we reached a fire tower lookout and emergency helipad. The late afternoon cleared. Trail runners arrived on the top of the tower after running up from the other side, all 1400 steps. With little room we set up our tents under the fire tower and enjoyed the brief moments when the strong sun came out. The local trail runners have seen many hikers and are very familiar about the trail. With a bit of luck the forecast clear skies will bring a nice sunrise and a visit to the city that marks the quarter way point of the trail.