December 11th
Mangakahu Valley Rd(634.4)-Taumarunui(653.4)
Mileage: 19mi/31km
Campsite Elevation: 608ft/185m

Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook Hikes Te Araroa App.

This will be a short one so I can have time to catch up on things in town and also do some logistics for the next couple legs. It rained on and off through the night and we both stayed dry and got plenty of sleep. We got motivated to pack up as rain fell and it amazingly cleared as we left our tents! It was a gravel and then paved 19mi/31km walk through mostly farmland to get to the town of Taumarunui. We had a nice relaxed time walking in and keeping each other company to avoid boredom. It was actually quite scenic and we enjoyed it. 

The clouds came and went and there was a slight chill in the air. There were short periods of rain (some quite hard), but then sun immediately came out and dried us. 

Along the way, we came along a residence where a boy named Sam has Sam’s Shop. He sells eggs there and the money he makes goes to candy for TA hikers. There is a picnic table and water and it’s a perfect spot to rest. While we were there, 12yr old Sam rode up on his dirt bike with his dad Luke and they invited us back for tea and cookies. Great timing! 

After that, it was a couple hours to town and McDonalds. Many of the other hikers we’ve been around had hitched to town or taken alternates and were at the McDonalds and later a group of around 20 at the Holiday Park. I did a poor job of taking photos once we hit town as there was a lot to do. 

The short of what’s happening is that weather is looking very poor (very cold, rainy, and gale force winds) to do the Tongariro Crossing and the side trip we’d like to do to summit Mt Doom. Four TA hikers had to be rescued yesterday trying to push through in bad weather. It’s just a 17mi/28km stretch we can do in a day, and since it’s a major tourist destination, there is a busy road going from one end to the other. We will walk out tomorrow, and head that way in the hopes that it clears in a few days, but if it doesn’t, we don’t want to miss our one chance to do this right on a nice day. It looks like we can hitch around it (this road hitching thing on the TA is finally coming in handy!) and continue on doing the road walking of the TA after the Crossing for a couple days. Then, once this front passes, we can easily hitch back and do the 17mi/28km in good weather. 

We won’t be missing any of the TA, but it is a shuffle. We could sit it out and wait 3-4 days to do it straight through and then realized we could just knock out the road walking miles while we waited instead. Yes, it would be doable in the weather that’s coming, but it’s not the safest and certainly not enjoyable. Maybe weather will magically shift and we won’t need to skip and come back. We probably could not safely do or see Mt Doom, and we may not get to see anything along the Crossing. We hope this gives us the option to really do the once in a lifetime kind of trip over the Crossing the way it should be experienced. 

In addition to all this are the logistics of the 4-5 day canoe section that comes not long after the Crossing. Still finalizing all that and coordinating a group of 6-8 that will chip in to make the canoe rental cheaper. I am excited about both these legs, but the planning aspect and all the moving parts (we need to work around upcoming Xmas and other hiker’s itineraries) wears me out ten times more than hiking. Alrighty, that’s it for now!

Camp spot at the Taumarunui Holiday Park.

Side note, I see all your comments and support, and even if I don’t reply, know they are read and greatly appreciated. I know you all can appreciate the time it takes to hike and blog and know that if I miss an email or don’t respond, it’s not intentional:) I wanted to do a special birthday photo for my friend Paula who will be reading this on her birthday, but it didn’t come together, so I hope this works. HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAULA!

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