38. Stone – Price’s Clearing (Wangapeka 3+4/4) – Tapawera

Monday, March 20: Mountain clouds to begin with, becoming fine and sunny

Tramping: 19.9 km

Tapawera Settle Motorcamp, 19 Tadmore Valley Rd, Tapawera 7055, cabin ($75, including on-demand transport from the track end), hosts: Colin & Tina

One last attempt at finding the glasses last night by waiting until it was dark and using the headlamp to detect any glint was not successful, but there was a probe standing around this morning, so after breakfast I made the very last attempt also, alas, to no avail. After which there was nothing much left to do except pack everything up, sweep the floor, take out the ash (not very much, the hard red wood took a long time to get to burn, but when it did there was a lot of heat and not much ash) and I was ready to go by 9:45.

The very first part of the track was a bit of river skipping but after a bridge the mule route took over and it was very high and dry over the river, and quite flat. About halfway to the huts there were a couple of stretches of mud but apart from that everything was OK. I wasn’t pushing it and arrived at King’s Creek for lunch after around 2½ hours, after briefly considering staying at Cecil King’s Hut (historical) with its two bunks.

King’s Creek, on the other hand, is quite a large hut, & very inviting, except for having to haul the water from a nearby creek. I decided I would get off the track today as the further distance was given as 11.4 km/3½ hours which, starting @ 12:45 I could easily get done. Glad I did so, because I met about nine trampers on their way from the track end and that wouldn’t have filled the hut, but it would have been quite full.

The donkey track continued for a while and I tried some dead reckoning. A little into this there was a bridge, and after that the track experienced quite a lot of ups & downs. In the end 1 km was done in 13 minutes, or about 4.5 km/h, which would give a slightly more favourable time of 2½ hours.

From now on the sun was shining quite strongly so I took out my hat and put it on. In general the track was very dry and some sections appeared to have been surveyed for roads. In addition to the passages over bluffs, longer valley mouth sections appeared which were quite flat. In general these parts would be very swampy when wet.

The camera started playing up around this point so it will be interesting to see tomorrow whether the raw pictures are of any value. But the views were great. One large slip (Wangapeka Slip) was passed with its extensive and deep but clear lake.

One last hydration break was managed at around 2:45 and very soon after that the bridge across the Rolling River was crossed, which is the end of the Wangapeka Track itself.

A short stroll down the road led past the turnoff to the Siberia Flat Campsite and then shortly after that the entrance to the national park itself (Price’s Clearing) with its telephone was reached. I had unpacked my diary at the track end carpark and had the telephone number memorised so a quick call to Colin had him change the reservation to today and on his way to pick me up. Sandflies were about again and deet had to be applied. Wandered around photographing the scenery, waited for a bit and then retrieved the pol filter for a second set. Was in the middle of an extended hand-held bracket when he turned up. About half an hour later we were in Tapawera at the motorcamp, after the almost 30 km long drive. Fortunately, credit cards were accepted, an odd pair of glasses around 2.0 diopters were found and appropriated by me, and a plan could be made for the evening.

Back to the future. GPS quality: 30/30, coverage: 100%, download: Stone - Prices Clearing GPX (1230 downloads)

I was shown a shortcut to the town centre and headed off to the hotel to see what was for dinner, and then to the supermarket. The former was open until 8:00 (or, at least, serving meals until then) and the latter until 7:30. Bought some beer, then headed back, deciding on the way to shower but not wash the clothes; and to try to move the InterCity booking forward to tomorrow. Shower performed (plenty of left behind shower gels/shampoos to choose from), then asked Colin whether he could dig out an 0800 number for InterCity for me, which he couldn’t (there isn’t one), so he let me use his laptop to cancel the old booking and create a new one for tomorrow ($4 charge each time, getting a little tiresome). Genie & Elizabeth will have to wait until I get internet/coin telephone access tomorrow.

That out of the way I went over to the pub for chicken parmagiano for $17 (chicken, ham, tomato, cheese, chips & salad, and a handle of Tui for $6.5; Tapawera Hotel, 84 Main Road, Tapawera, good value for money). Funny how these meals appear so large after a long walk. Back here went into the kitchen expecting to write the diary but was soon involved in a discussion with Marcel & Jasmin, who are also staying here, and Melanie & Rafael from Berne, Switzerland.