Sep 29 day 29 Mercer to Rangiriri 25 km 9:15-3:15
Woke early, looked out on a cold, very foggy landscape, rolled over in my warm bed and slept more. After packing I went over to the Pokeno Bacon Diner. They serve filter coffee (first I’ve had since arriving) and lots of bacon dishes (including an English Bacon butty, ummmmm). Lingered over coffee and then set off down the road for Rangiriri, following my resolution to slow down a little bit. It was a river hike, so no slippery climbing, though I spent the better part of the day dodging cow piles and mud holes. All in all pretty walking by the river– birds, cattle. The occasional slightly aggressive herd made me call up my youthful skills developed chasing cattle in Shenandoah county. Arrival in Rangiriri was amid road construction and once again (like back at the Auckland Airport or through the forest harvest zone) I found myself improvising a route to the accommodation through a blockaded area. Was not arrested. Wandered the town (one commercial block) to discover a battle was fought here in the Maori Wars, with around 100 people killed, many of whom are buried in the cemetery, the settlers and soldiers in traditional marked graves, the Maori in a mass grave forming a hill in one part of the grounds. Wanted to get big feed on at the only pub, but because of the construction the water was shut off so I had to settle for a pint and a toasted sandwich.