Adventures in New Zealand #18 - At the Sign of the Prancing Pony (05/07/2014)
So day 2. We awoke in the Little Waipa reserve. It had been a very windy night but the weather overall wasn’t too bad. The next stage was to aim for a camp site down at the bottom of Lake Arapuni.
Our route this day took us down the Waikato River trail, a much nicer and picturesque experience, compared to the unending highway previously.
The challenge for the morning was our lack of water. The Little Waipa Reserve was literally a patch of grass by the river, and a toilet. No running water to speak of, so our bottles remained empty for the duration of the morning - it was a struggle. Salvation came in the form of a sign, telling us we were half way to a cafe in Arapuni village, just 3km to go (failing to mention the incredibly long and steep hill we had to climb to get there).
Arapuni was a curious place. We refueled at the cafe for a time and went on our way. Once we left the village boundaries we realised the cafe, and a backpackers we had passed, were he only real establishments in the entire village. No little corner shop, post office, or anything else at all to speak of (We’d later learn the closest shop was in the next town).
We crossed the Arapuni dam and continued on our way. Not far past the dam we encountered a small bird lying in the road. We assume it was hit by a car, it seemed to have lost use of one of it’s wings and on closer inspection also appeared to be choking on a maggot or something similar it had been trying to eat. Unfortunately there was nothing we could really to for it so found somewhere dry and warm to leave it where it could be hopefully be somewhat comfortable.
We continued down our road for a time, before Jessie’s injury from the day before resurfaced. Doing some quick calculations, at our current speed, we wouldn’t reach the next camp until long after the sun had set (probably spent a little too long in the cafe). We decided to try and catch a ride, though as usual cars were less than helpful. After a while a local farmer on a quad bike came by, and took pity on us, offering us a lift if we were still about at 5:30pm once his work was done, as the country road we were on was seldom travelled by cars.
We stuck around. Quite a few cars actually passed but none stopped. Eventually the sun set, and the rain came. Heavy rain. We took shelter under some trees, and stuck around until 6pm. No sign of the farmer. We have no idea where he went or if he had intention of coming back, but we figured we couldn’t stay in the dark and wet forever. Our best option was to head back to Arapuni and try the backpackers, a place to sleep for the night, assess the situation, and start afresh in the morning,
Back on the main road we managed to get a lift back to the village, and found the backpackers - much like the hobbits approaching Bree and staying at the Prancing Pony on a rainy night.
Fate it seemed was on our side. The owners of the backpackers were on holiday, but had friends house sitting just in case. These house sitters were actually just about to leave to go shopping,and likely to return to their own home for the night, not expecting any visitors, and had we arrived any later we would have found ourselves faced with a locked up empty building. Lucky indeed!
It was a comfortable night and I was able to make myself a mug of hot blackcurrant, much needed after the days events.
Because of the difference in walking speed and the uncertainty of help we’d find on the continuing country roads of the original route we decided the best course of action was to head for the next town Putaruru and from there head to State Highway 1, making it easier to get to Taupo (our intended destination in 3 days time) if we ran into trouble, and get us back on track.