Oct 3 day 33 Kaniwhaniwha campsite to stealth site 26 km 8:45- 6:30
Physically a very hard day. Started out slow as I awoke to more rain on the tent and a louder rush of the Kaniwhaniwha stream (which on inspection, had risen considerably). I waited until there was a lull, then in full rain gear, struck camp and headed up the trail. The first few km were pleasant and beautiful, but then the climb came. Spent the morning gaining the elevation to get to the peak of Mount Pirongia which clocks in a 957 meters. I believe it is much taller than anything I have climbed thus far. The trail up was abysmal. The recent rain had turned what little soil there was into muddy soup, so I was climbing roots and mud all morning. The peak would have been beautiful were it not socked in by mist. Just past it, I had lunch at a very cool, brand-new DoC hut. The descent out was also pretty amazing as it was a km boardwalk to a lookout point. Then it got rough again, slipping and sliding down like an amusement park ride. I was not amused. Hit the bottom around 4:00 with no real possibility of camping in sight. In the USA, there tend to be edge lands–land not in economic use which can, in a pinch, serve as a place to pitch a tent. In NZ the farms all assert their status as private property (with plenty of forbidding signs) and they tend to fence right to the road. I walked a good 12 km after getting off the trail without seeing any place to try to pitch a tent. Ended up stealth camping on a forestry road that had been blocked off from the main road. Actually a nice place, though the rain had never really stopped so it was pretty damp. Cooked some ramen and went to sleep early and exhausted.