We were up at 6.30am, packed the tent and bags very efficiently – helped a lot as we were foregoing coffee this morning! We stopped by the hut for water and teeth brushing and headed out at 7:10am
The hut warden had revealed the previous evening that if you stand on the helipad you can get enough signal to send/receive text messages. I had one from George checking I was still alive even though I’d said we weren’t going to be out until tonight – I think he wanted to be able to stop worrying but I wasn’t going to reply until we were safely back.
I loved today’s walk, nowhere near as spectacular as the second day with the volcano climb and the lakes, but the warden was right it was a much easier walk, only 2 big climbs, but the scenery was amazing, lots of heather and sand, the mountains moving into the distance, slowly finishing the circle around them.
Our first time marker was Lake junction and we reached it after 2hr15 rather than the DOC estimate of 3 hr, this was good as we had a bus to catch so making good time was a bonus!
Towards the end of the walk my blisters were so sore, getting up the final hill was a struggle, I plugged myself into my iPod and singing and dancing along distracted me from the pain – my little shuffle is very kind to me in terms of great music. All super danceable and upbeat apart from one song, not sure of the name, but has the words something along the lines of ‘this ain’t a love song this is goodbye’, was so sunny and beautiful and we were getting towards the end, it tipped me over, so sad that the walk was almost done.
Despite the moaning, blisters, the insect bites, massive bruises on my bum and cuts on my hands from the mountain I was sad to be leaving it all behind and getting back to reality.
Reality hit really suddenly, we were back on a tarmac road, it was all over. We’d done the second half of the walk in 1hr45 rather than 2.5hours – DOC timings are terrible, but it meant time for food and a shower!!!!
I popped to the DOC office to see it there was somewhere we could pop into for a shower – there was! Skotel, a ski chalet place, $5 for shower including towel and a hairdrier!!! Was so amazing to be clean and even better to have blow dried hair!!
All the timing worry was due to the need to drive back to Rotorua for 4pm so we could drop the car and get the 4:30 bus back to Auckland….. We got there with plenty of time so stopped in layby to repack the bags and book an Auckland hotel.
We dropped the car off with no trouble but had to wait for another customer before we could get our lift to the bus. It turned out that they were from the company our south island trip is with – g adventures, a lovely guy who’s been with them from the start – small world!
We arrived just in time for the bus, but it was not a Naked bus, it was v hot and full of smelly people, needn’t have bothered paying $5 for a shower earlier (although is lovely to have clean hair!) there were people with far bigger issues than us.
Bus left 15 mins late….. So no nice bus, late, smelly and no wifi again….. One long, hot, over crowded journey later we arrived in Auckland around 8.30pm
Thankfully the hotel(!) – Mercure – was literally minutes from the bus stop so lugged all the luggage there, checked in, plugged in phones to charge and headed out to find some wine for the train tomorrow and then food (priorities!). In New Plymouth there was a Burger Fuel that people raved about and there was one opposite the hotel, so it seemed rude not to give it a try – delicious! Not sure the fries were really necessary, but we felt we’d deserved them!!
Feeling overly full we walked the 2mins back to the hotel and settled down to watch some TV – Come Dine With Me was on – perfect way to end a long few days!
I also removed all the zinc oxide tape and plasters from my toes and surveyed the damage – 4 blisters on my left foot plus the one where the skin got ripped off yesterday and 4 on my right. Much as I love my vivo trainers I have to say I’m not feeling the same way for their boots – I’ve never had blisters from any boots before – but can’t quite justify buying new ones just yet, hoping they will be ok for 1 day walks……