It rained all night. At least it was raining everytime I woke up. By 4.30am the birds started their morning chorus. By 5.30am they were all in tune. It’s great to be camping and hear the sounds of nature. Recent years in North America and Central America has left me without these sweet sounds. The bird calls in New Zealand are so much louder and diverse.
Muddy trails led to muddy farmland which led to a wet but pleasant backroad. With the rain coming down the trail headed off into wet muddy farmland again. Instead of following the road we decided to continue on the small backroads for 17km. Only one problem. We had not counted on meeting the Silver Fern Rally cars again. Another 2 hour wait in the rain.
10am photo below
Heavy rain followed us for the next couple of hours till we made it to the tourist mecca of Waitomo. An underground river flows through the limestone complex with glow worms, waterfalls and all the usual cave stuff.
On my first visit to New Zealand many years ago I put on a wetsuit, jumped onto a tyre inner tube and floated through the caves. Blackwater rafting, they called it.
One thing about that trip stuck in my mind more than any other. Just how cold I was when I exited the cave. I had uncontrolled shivering and the hot shower at the end was near impossible to enjoy cause my skin was so cold it felt like it was burning.
Suffice it to say, I did not go caving today. Instead a burger in a local cafe was much more appealing. Warm and dry we looked at the rain get harder and harder till it became torrential. Leaving the comforts behind to hike in pouring rain is not easy. The easy thing would be to stay dry, get a hotel room and wait for the rain to stop. Only one problem. This is New Zealand, it can rain a lot here. If I only hiked in good weather I might finish this trail in 1 year.
We pushed ourselves outside to the now torrential downpour. A short roadwalk led to more farmland. The trail was a flowing river in parts, it was tougher than a $2 steak. The clay based soil had me slipping and sliding more than the rally cars. I crashed more often than them. Michelle took a couple of falls which rendered her rain pants all but useless. They were ripped and full of holes.
Our hope of making it to the town of Te Kuiti before sunset were dashed by our slow progress of 1km/h. The trail left the farmers field and entered a very small nature reserve. It was nearly dark when we set up our tents. Everywhere was flooded except the raised walking path. That’s where we set them up for the night.