The idea was to get to Mercer but there was a mountain climb and long road sections ahead so we decided to push as hard as we could and see where we would get to. The mountain really was a climb and even though we followed a ridge line after the first 413m climb it kept descending and inclining leaving us sweaty and pumped. When we finally saw the farmlands we could breathe out in relief. Even though the mountainous forest was only 7km long we had had enough of the bush and were keen to dunk our heads in the river just down from us. However, we decided not to engage in the river head dunking when I found a decaying cow nearby. Yikes.
After another long and hot road sections we found ourselves on farmland walking on a stop bank. It was only 10 km to Mercer now. The stop bank started off with a nice easy walk on short maintained grass and ended with long sticky not so maintained grass. When we got out on the road our legs were covered in little black sticky bits, it looked pretty nasty.
Never have I been so excited to see a McDonalds sign as I was walking in to Mercer I didn’t even care that I looked like a chicken. After a small forest section next to the highway my sticky legs had picked up some white fluff so together with my farm animal stinking merino top you could really mistake me for a big chicken.
The bathroom at McDonalds quickly turned in to a shower. Luckily the stuff came off easy with water. With our legs somewhat washed, shoes off we happily gorged on our giant meals. What an incredible evening.
Our evening ended up in a rugby field that some locals had kindly let us stay at. Safe to say, we had never been on flatter ground yet.
With McDonalds for breakfast and a slow pack down in the sun our morning started a little later making the day go past a little slower. We were supposed to walk along Waikato River all the way in to Hamilton, something I was very excited about but it wasn’t all that easy. First, we had to walk through some ridiculously bushy and gorse filled hills. I got lost in the high grass a few times and came out of it a bit angry and frustrated it had taken far too long. The first river side section was actually in the grass next to the motorway, you couldn’t even see the river as it was behind thick bush. It wasn’t until after Meremere that we finally could see the river and we were off the motorway. We walked and walked but the distance to Rangiriri didn’t seem to get any smaller. The evening came and we were still far away from our intended destination so after some dancing in the field, some dramatic landscape photos and back on the road we started to look for a suitable camp spot. Luckily, Ash drove past and feeling sorry for us, he offered his house to stay at. We were more than happy to walk another 5km to the turnoff to his house while he put up an eel net in the river. He also said something about showers and BBQ and that he would pick us up at the turnoff. We were so excited and even though my feet felt raw I picked up my pace happy about the turn of events this evening.
He really had put on a BBQ and offered us showers (well in the state of smelliness we were in you would definitely not want us near your house otherwise) and even let us stay on matrasses inside. We were so happy and thankful to Ash and his beautiful wife Amy. Thank you, you have no idea how much we appreciated this gesture. Wish you all the best with the baby.
Ash had to leave early the next morning so he dropped us back on our track at 6:30. It was nice having an early start, it meant we could really get some km’s done that day. My toes had started to become raw, like actually raw and even though I taped them up, walking was pretty painful, especially as once again we were on roads all day.
We reached Huntly in good time for lunch, we found a nice takeaway place and got some pizza. Yum. I felt tired and demotivated and wished we could just stay there, but if we wanted to get to Hamilton the next day we had to keep going. Arthur had forgotten a small bag in Ashes car so we decided to walk along the road the whole way instead of walking through the mountains that were supposed to be pretty high and ruff (I was very ok with that decision). It would also mean that we would reach Hamilton the next day, something I was stoked about as it meant a rest day, something my feet desperately needed.
We found a nice man who offered us to stay in his spare paddock and even brought us a chilly bin filled with water and 6 farm eggs. Arthur went off to hitch a ride back to Huntly to meet up with Ash and collect his stuff while Ben and I set up camp. My feet were getting more and more raw and sore. We had walked 33km that day.
We got up early and left without breakfast figuring we would eat later along the way. After a while we found a nice park and I made an omelette with our 6 beautiful eggs and some sausage we had bought for the occasion. It was delicious. The way to Hamilton was nice. We walked along the Waikato River on a cycle lane for most of the way. The boys were ahead and I was slowly wobbling on my sore feet in the back starting to feel miserable. I tried to occupy my mind with some Spanish lessons and for some km it worked. I couldn’t shut my mind up though. I was nearing a serious breakdown and I decided to admit to Arthur that I wanted to quit. For a few days now I couldn’t remember why I was doing this again. The biggest catalyst for these feelings were my tiredness and aching feet of course but after Auckland I had been feeling this small emptiness inside that was just growing. Going to Auckland was so exiting and it was my biggest goal, maybe so big in fact that I had made the rest not count. I was just so thrilled to be able to see everyone again and the thought off arriving in Wellington not really knowing anyone was sad. The notion that I had so much still to go. I wasn’t even half way and it wasn’t one of the things I could just fast forward. If I want to get to Bluff faster I had to go faster no one would take me there, I would have to walk and the walking was starting to mess with my head. Every day we get up, eat and walk and in the evening we sleep and then get up and do it all over again. Walk, walk, walk and if we don’t push it we don’t get to Bluff in time. So I had a little bit of honest time in the grass by the Waikato only 5km out of Hamilton centre.
The truth is I was desperately trying to come up with good excuses to why I couldn’t continue, why I should go home and I felt bad too because in Auckland there is Emma who wants to be here and she can’t because her ankle is potentially really bad (still waiting for results) and I’m sad about that as well, I really want us all to be able to continue, it’s just not the same without them. It’s been really great having Ben with us but I’m really hoping that our other half will be able to join us soon.
Now we have tented up in Hamilton, Ben said good bye as he wants to keep going and Arthur and I will rest up our legs and wash our clothes and eat food.