The biggest thunder storm to hit Auckland for some time spookily coincided with my Huanua tramp. After doing the first section I decided to bail out, after a ranger told me that they were closing the campground. I phoned my new friends Helen and Sue from the tramping club. They very kindly picked me up from a random roadside and thus I spent a wild but warm and dry Saturday night with Helen’s mum Lena (aged 80, “not old”), watching University Challenge and eating icecream. I am truly ‘living the dream'.
I met Cindi when I was having a swift can of fizzy pop or three and now know everything you would ever need to know about sex change operations in Thailand and what a big change at the age of 70 it is to become a Burlesque dancer, after a lifetime as a locomotive driver in Hamilton.
After making it through the by-now very wet/muddy/slippery Huanuas, I will draw a veil on the subsequent paddocks/bulls experience. Suffice to say that walking in ditches whilst being eyed up by supposedly ‘baby’ bulls is not my idea of a fun day.
The campsite in Huntly is run by a lovely couple, who give discounts (hurrah!) to TA trampers and keep a book of all walkers. I did look in the shops for a ‘I survived a night in Huntly’ T-shirt but no joy. None in stock. There must have been a run on them?
Continuing my theme of being a magnet for 70 year old guys, I had a great chat with Kevin from Newcastle. He is biking around NZ and he cooked me a lovely dinner and tried to fix up another meeting in Hamilton where we could share a room at a hostel, to “save costs”.
The walk over the hill from Huntly said 8 hours on the DOC sign. It was a looong 8 hours, of steep climbs. At the other end I descended the many, many steps - whilst trying to avoid the throngs of lycra-clad people doing the fitness trail. The Council cunningly decided to get said lycra-brigade to help build the paths, so they put bags of gravel at the bottom of the steps and get people heft them up. The cliché fairy had put up various signs to encourage people.
Meeting the lovely crew from Waikato MS and staying with Karen and then with Liz who kindly picked me up at the end of the day was so very nice. MS staff work long hours, for not so great pay because they are super-special people who care.
This tramp is many steps for people with MS, but also for all the amazing people who work for the NZ MS Society. If the only thing that my journey achieves is some much needed publicity for these super-heroes, I will be very happy.