Day 43: Road Walk to the Pureora Forest
Friday, December 22, 2023 9:04 pm
Location: Pureora Cabins (952.9 km)

A day of road walking brought us to the Pureora Forest, and just short of the Timber Trail, a significant cycling trail.

CareFree noticed that the tread on her new boots looked surprisingly worn down, given we’d only hiked about 140 km from where she started wearing them. So on the one hand, she’s glad she didn’t put them on when we left Auckland and waited 150 km to start using them, but the wear both seems excessive, and worrisome in the face of the volcanic rock we’ll find in Tongariro National Park, about a week ahead of us.

We saw Snow briefly before he went to work, which was likely the farm we were on. Just before he left on an ATV, he let three dogs loose; one of them came up to me to investigate, and then the three of them were off, with two of them zooming down the road and the third lagging a bit behind.

We left the farmhouse a little before 8:30, heading again through cow and sheep farms amid nice landscape. The only really interesting thing we saw in the morning was a shed with a dozen deer skulls with antlers sitting on top.


The gravel road eventually joined SH 30, which we followed most of the rest of the way to our destination today.

Sheep on a Hill
Sheep on a Hill

We stopped for a break at a bus shelter, with “This is not a toilet, it is a bus shelter for school children” written inside. (The message was quite old, and had been partially graffitied over.)

We got a message back from Taumarunui Canoe Hire, telling us that they could make our requested date of January 6 work for the Whanganui River, if we could book the necessary DOC hut/campsite reservations for the 6th and 7th. We were able to, though it was a little slow and frustrating since we had pretty bad cell reception where we were. (We picked that date because It’s also when Peter and Susana will be starting the river.)

This also gives us some time to kill, since it shouldn’t take us anywhere near that long to get to Whakahoro, where we start on the river. So now, to kill two days, we’re considering a double zero in Taumarunui, and adding the Northern Circuit in Tongariro, which loops around Mount Ngāuruhoe (the stand-in for Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies).

That, of course, is entirely weather dependent, and the weather next week is not looking great. The rain we’re currently worrying about looks like it’ll hit the day after tomorrow, so we should hopefully get one good day on the Timber Trail.

CareFree Hikes Towards Pureora
CareFree Hikes Towards Pureora

The road walk today was a little better than yesterday’s, but only because it was shorter, a little more cloudy to keep the sun off, and there was a little more breeze. Otherwise, it was still boring and monotonous.

Another hour and a half on roads brought us to the Pureora Forest, and cabins and campsites just before the start of the Timber Trail.

The Timber Trail is an 84 km cycling path through the Pureora Forest. The trail notes suggests doing this over four days, but we’re expecting to do it in two. This means tomorrow and the day after are long days, and the weather forecast doesn’t look the greatest for it, with rain likely on both days.

We decided we wanted a cabin this evening, rather than tenting. At least part of the reason was so we could get an earlier start since we have a 36 km day planned for tomorrow, but really, we just didn’t want to tent.

No one was in the office, so we called and left a message, which went straight to voicemail. We then sat down on some chairs outside one of the cabins, and relaxed, and waited for someone to show up.

The campground hosts, Frances and Moera, returned an hour and a half later, and booked us into a cabin next to a family with two young kids.

We chatted with them for a while, especially about the state of the trail in the area, and Frances said she’d bring up the issues we raised to the [presumably Waikato] Council.

We got showers — always nice to have after a long day or two on the trail, and cooked dinner. The family next door to us gave us a carrot, squash, two oranges, and cheese and crackers. Our hosts gave us a small dish with salad, and two candy canes. (After all, Christmas is in a few days, even if it’s summer here and doesn’t feel like it at all.)

With a long day set to start the Timber Trail tomorrow, we set a 5:30 alarm.