Day 25 Auckland to Te Kuiti (11.5km) The Intercity bus from Auckland to Te Kuiti looked rather special and more like a train than an actual bus.
Unfortunately none of the power sockets worked and I wasn't able to charge my phone on the 4.5 hr drive.
In Te Kuiti I went straight to the next supermarket to top up my food supply for the next 4-5 days. Here I also met Jonathan, another german hiker who had just forgotten his rain jacket on the trail and was about to go back and look for it. I left the town around 4 pm and as I had just left the main road I stumbled upon a flooded trail.
I tried to wade through the water, but was already knee-deep in the mud after just a few steps. I turned around, tried the next road through a private company compound and jumped a fence to get back on the official trail. From here on the trail was pretty dry and really nice. The trail went along the Mangaokewa river and was full of goats and sheep. I hiked some 11km in 2.5 hrs until I found a nice campsite and stayed there for the night.
Day 26: 881.5 to 927.7 (16km)
The next morning I woke up late, just minutes before I heard Alex's voice calling my name. He had caught up from Te Kuiti and together with Bartik (Pol) we hiked along the river until we reached the Mangaokewa Road junction.
Here we parted, as Alex and I were headed southbound to the state highway 30, to skip another 25km of roadwalking.
There were barely any cars going our direction, but we finally got a ride from a Maori guy on his way to Rotorua. He even drove us a bit further than expected and followed a gravel road up to the trail head. That saved us more than half a day of roadwalking. Alex didn't feel well that day and I was pretty lazy, so we both stayed at the lovely Ngaherenga campsite. Later that day s family of four showed up.
We had already heard about them, because of their kids who are 9 and 14. Guess they'll never forget a thru-hike like that.
Day 27: 927.7 to 964.6 (37km)
It rained again in the morning, so i waited for the rain to ease of and left camp late. For the next two days we would be on the "Timber Trail", an old trail and tramway line that was used from the 1920's to 70's to produce timber for New Zealand's economy.
In the late morning to early afternoon it started raining again, which made the crossing of a long suspension bridge even more interesting.
I'm not the biggest fan of suspension bridges, especially when they are slippery and moving from the wind. Unfortunately the weather didn't allow any views on Lake Taupo, but the trail was easy and I made good progress in the early hours.
Luckily the weather changed 1.5 hrs before setting up camp and so we had some time to dry off and enjoy a little bit of sun.
Day 28: 964.6 to 1006.3 (42km)
The night was cold on the wide open campground. We had a beautiful morning with a scenic mix of fog and sunshine.
We continued on the Timber Trail and had another 3-4 beautiful suspension bridges on our journey. It was the best maintained trail that we had experienced so far and we therefore made a lot of progress without much effort.
The trail was mainly flat, very wide and soft and even had a small and old tramway tunnel.
It also regularly had information signs on the history of the trail, or the local animals.
Day 29: 1006.3 to Taumarunui (25km)
The trail to Taumarunui followed a gravel road for 25km. It was a rather boring walk and some 10k from the town I crossed a bridge to the state highway, hoping for a hitch.
I didn't get lucky and wasn't really willing to wait and started to follow the highway instead. Maybe 2km from town, a kiwi family picked me up and gave me a short ride to the towns supermarket. I had a soda and some breakfast at a local bakery and than continued to the canoe rental company to get everything sorted for the Whanganui canoe trip.
Alex and I had previously decided to share a canoe as solo paddlers are not allowed and once we agreed on a date with the company, we drove back into town to do some grocery shopping for a total of 11 days.
Since weight doesn't really matter on the canoe, I ended up buying a lot of food, probably too much. In total I spent 211 NZD just on food for these 11 days. The canoe rental company picked us up at 3:30 pm and back at their place we organised and packed our supplies into waterproof barrels. After another 5 days of hiking, the company will meet us in Whakahoro with our supplies and their canoes, so that we can start the canoe trip there.