Distance today: 38.3km
Distance total: 907.7km
Time hiked: 7h 10min
Time total: 263h 31min
I have to be in Hamilton by 5 today as my Couchsurfing Host will leave afterwards and couldn't host me anymore if I arrived later.
And this is going to be extremely tight...
I wake up at 5 in order to leave with the first light. Getting out of the sleeping bag is hard given that the temperature dropped to just slightly above freezing point. But clever Sandro learned from previous experiences and has his gloves and cap ready ;)
The first 12km through the Hakarimata Range is the unknown factor. How long will it take me?
I heard and read from 4 up to 7 hours.
To make it to Hamilton I have to be in Ngaruawahia, the end of the Range, no later than 12:30. This would leave me a bit more than 5 hours for the remaining 22km of road and walkway walking.
At 6 I leave the campsite and enter the Hakarimata Range Reserve 20 minutes later. It's a long climb up to the first lookout. Steep but with stairs not too bad.
Still, only a few minutes into the climb, I remove my cap, followed by the gloves. At the fantastic lookout, with the sun just a little over the horizon, I'm only in shorts and my shirt.
The trail then changes into tramping standard. It's a continuous change between mud, roots and dry soil as well as steep and flat sections. It makes the hike interesting but also unpredictable.
It takes me exactly 4 hours to the other lookout. Again an amazing view from the platform.
4 hours is a bit faster than expected so I enjoy the view a bit longer and have a really nice chat with two lovely hikers from Cambridge.
The descend, according to the sign, takes 1h 30min. Flying down the stairs, the end of the trail is reached in less than half an hour. With the breaks 5 hours for the range. Faster than planned. But I was really pushing it.
Ngaruawahia looks like a ghost town - shockingly empty everything! At least the supermarket is open. Time for some well needed energy! The next 6km is road bashing before turning left onto a cycle way, which runs parallel along the river. 15km in 3 hours. For me, that's actually quite a lot. Usually I only do 4 to 4.5 kilometers an hour. Especially on such a sunny, warm day.
Has to be brutal to do this road bash on a hot summer day!
7km to go and 5 o'clock is still 2 hours away. Even though hiking goes very smooth, I slow down a little.
All I know is that John, my host, lives in the city centre. Nothing more. So upon entering the center, I contact him to find out his address. No answer. Instead of just waiting I resupply for the next 5 days until Te Kuiti.
And it's shortly before checking-out when John sends me his address. Only 10 minutes away. That's just great.
5 to 5. With Swiss precision I enter John's impressive but somewhat spooky villa. John, an utterly relaxed guy, leaves shortly after.
For the first time since I'm in New Zealand I eat in a real restaurant. Delicious Korean soybean soup with many side dishes. Exactly what I need for the next strenuous part!