Sep 14 day 14 Ngunguru Village to Pataua South 32 km 8:45-4:00
Not a particularly eventful day, though the weather was perfect, nearly cloudless. First half was a long road walk out of Ngunguru past the Hugh Crawford Reserve– about 15 km. not a lot of traffic and the countryside was pretty, but also boring. Saw some good livestock including some amazing bulls. There is a bird always out in the bush whose call sounds exactly like R2-D2. And there are these ducks who are always in pairs, but don’t really look alike. One has a while head and an often shrill call, feathers smooth with a russet chest. It’s partner is a fuzzy black critter with a coarse, loud call. They tend to hang out in the mud puddles in pasture land, and spend most of their time yelling at each other. You almost never see one alone, always paired. The middle of the day brought the only bush hike, which had its bright points, but was only 4 km and the entry and exit were through recent tree harvest slash. I did get to ford two rivers, and the woods in the middle were wonderfully peaceful. There I met three women hikers who had spent much of their lives walking the tracks all over NZ– were very knowledgable about how the TA was put together, and were completely engaging. The last third of the day was also road walking. I hope one day the TA Trust finds a way onto the farmland and get the trail off the road. My knees were huge at the end of today, probably need to go slow tomorrow. Got to Pataua South by crossing a footbridge across an estuary where a very old man was fishing, had a bucket full of many different fish. Arrived finally at the Treasure Island campground, running straight into Tim, the good natured proprietor on his trusty ATV. The place was deserted except for one other hiker. Tim directed me to a beautiful picnic area plateau– perfect grass and incredible view of the ocean. Got a hot shower, cooked dinner and settled in for the night.