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Monday 27th Feb – Taumarunui -> Pipiriki (66 miles)

A day of 2 halves today and one which involved 2 relatively long climbs followed by a jet boat trip down the river!

The first part was a graveled road section from Taumarunui -> Whakahoro and the 2nd and more challenging part was the Kaiwhakauka track which had warnings that after rain can be tough going after rain and is not suitable for heavily laden bikes.

Aside from the climb, the first section to the Blue Duck cafe at Whakahoro was relatively straight forward going.  Just outside Taumarunui I spotted a field of Appaloosa horses.  The markings were incredible and they were quite happy to come over for a stroke.  I suspect they could smell the apple I had in my rucksack, but I’m afraid that wasn’t on offer.

Further great views along the gravel trail

before reaching the thriving and over populated town of Whakahoro

The cafe at the Blue Duck was run by 2 young English girls, one of whom came from Portsmouth.  They were on a gap year in NZ and seemed to be enjoying their time there.  Lunch was a simple affair and the decision was made to push on to Pipiriki.  I won’t deny that as far as trail riding goes this next section proved hard going.  The climbing up resembled the trails in Wales with some short sharp uphills that you really had to attack if you were to get up without stopping.  The muddy sections that littered the trail were deep and really hampered progress up the track.  The views were, however, great and when the trail was dry it was great fun.

It was a relief to reach the Pou as it meant I had reached the summit of the track.

And the remainder would be downhill.  The downhill was rutted and in places pretty muddy, but all in all a blast.  Before reaching the Mangapurua Landing where I would catch the jet boat there was one last thing I needed to do.  Take a photo of the Bridge to Nowhere (iconic bridge built over the Mangapurua Stream in 1936)

I was expecting the jet boat down the stream to be like you see on the TV with the boat skimming the rock sides with only a few inches to spare, but it was considerably tamer than that and a little disappointing.

Having reached Pipiriki, I decided I was going to push on a bit further and try and make the DOC campsite a bit further down the trail.

As the road section was pretty easy going with not too many hills I pushed on another 25 miles and reached camp at about 2130hrs, by which time it was really dark.  Tent was pitched under head torch and I proceeded to knock up.  Yes, you guessed it.  The Uncle Bens …. stodge.

Whilst pottering around the tent I could see many pairs of eyes staring at me from the trees.  The Possums were out in force here.

Next : Day 10 – DOC Campsite -> Rangiwahia