Since there was rain about and there had been some heavy rain a few days before I bypassed the Puketi Forest and headed north into the forestry hills. I came across a closed gate and some signs that said the area was patrolled by security and that the logging company should be called before entering. I hiked back 1km where I met two dairy farmers Darrly and his son Dan who were milking cows. They said it would be fine to walk on past the gate without a worry. They said there was no logging going on and hadn’t been for quite some time. We chatted for a while and it was interesting to hear what they had to say about Fonterra which is the company they are milking for. It’s a co-operative owned by nearly 11,000 dairy farmers and is the world’s leading exporter of dairy products. I enjoyed seeing Russell laze about on his bike. He’s the second dog I’ve seen that just loves living life on the farm.
Later, I arrived at Mangapa Bridge and wanted to fill up with water but the river bank was steep and didn’t offer much place to set up for it. I decided to press on another four kilometres where I could see on the map that there was a stream crossing the road. It turned out that it could not have been an easier place to collect water from.
Before getting to this area my heels were becoming hot with the friction of hiking the hills. I stopped for a fair while and put on more Leukotape before heading up again. Obviously this tape is not living up to it’s reputation.
From that point on I decided to use moleskin instead. After collecting water I opted to hike the forest roads until dark and then hike with the headlamp until I could find a level clearing for the tent. Kilometres went by but there was no place to camp. I was happy to hike at night. The stars were out and the hiking was easy – apart from the discomfort of my heels.
Then I came across the airstrip that I had seen on the map and found a small level clearing by it. The airstrip was very overgrown and hadn’t seen any traffic for years. Later I learnt that this was for planes that were fertilizing the area. I was too tired to cook dinner and it was about 9:30 when the tent was up so had a few snacks and called it a night. I really enjoyed seeing the stars through the thin wall of the tent. Minutes later the leeches started climbing in front of my view of the stars. It looked very alien like.