Day 35: Farm and Road Walk to Huntly
Thursday, December 14, 2023 9:32 pm
Location: Huntly / Lake Hakanoa Motor Caravan Park (738.3 km)

A short day of farm trail and roads brought us to Huntly.

We were a little slow leaving Rangiriri this morning, since we had only a short (15 km) day planned to Huntly. That gave us the opportunity to get breakfast at Fixate Eatery, next to the hotel. They had fantastic breakfast food; I ordered French toast that was more fruit than toast, and CareFree got a bowl of cereal that had so much fruit it made her feel healthier just by looking at it.

Leaving Rangiriri, we followed a road a short way out of town, entering a farm and wading through a knee-high grassy trail on a stopbank. It was better than yesterday, but still not great trail. At least it was better than walking along the road.

Grassy Field
Grassy Field

Our excursion through the farm came to an early end, when the trail crossed through a pen of cows. Not really wanting to deal again with cows on the trail, we took a cue from the hiker who had been a few minutes ahead of us all morning, and made a beeline for the road, climbing over a (live) electric fence to get out of the paddock. The road was faster and easier (and had no cows), though that did mean we cut out some potential views along the river.

We stopped for a lunch break and tried to plan ahead to Hamilton, the second large city we’ll hike through. But a lack of campsites (or really, much ofanywhere to stay) along the way, made it difficult to plan ahead.

Field of Flowers
Field of Flowers

We took a second brief break at a convenience store for ice cream and soda, then continued on to Huntly, passing by a power plant on the way to town whose smokestacks looked like giant Duracell batteries. We crossed over the Waikato River on a bridge that had a pedestrian walkway bolted on, and walked up the other bank of the river towards town.

In town, we did a tiny resupply (mostly of snacks) at the Countdown. I infected CareFree with the thought of Europe’s Final Countdown song as we approached.

On our way to the campground in Huntly, the managers of the campground happened to drive past us, and stopped to briefly chat with us, giving us a brief lay of the land before continuing on with their other jobs.

At the campground, we set up our tent near two other tents that were up. One belonged to a guy we saw for all of five minutes the entire evening; I don’t think he was a TA hiker. The other was Miriam, the hiker we briefly met at the cow field.

Over the rest of the evening, we had a great conversation with Miriam, and also Ann, who showed up later. Miriam is from Switzerland; Ann is from New Zealand, one of the very few TA hikers we’ve met from NZ. It was refreshing to have a conversation with hikers who appeared to be roughly our age.

There were quite a few pūkeko wandering around the campground. We were unsure if they could fly or not (Wikipedia says they can), but they were clearly good jumpers; I saw one of them jump over a three-meter fence (using its wings). They’re moderately large birds, and didn’t seem to be too worried about the people milling about.

PūkekoOne of several pūkeko at the campground foraging for food.

Tomorrow’s going to be another short day, as we go up and over the Hakarimata Ridge to Ngāruawāhia. Then, it’s on to Hamilton.