Day 31. Mt Pirongia. December 3, 2015.
Kaniwhaniwha Campsite km 839 to farm road at Km 870
All kilometers are not created equal. Climbing up Mt Pirongia was pretty straight forward. Lots of sub peaks. Few opportunities for views but it was mostly cloudy and then foggy so it didn’t matter.
Just past the top is a beautiful new hut. DOC maintains these backcountry huts. This is the first one on the TA. This one was just completed last April and sleeps 20. It only costs $5 (some are $10 or $15) to sleep here. Since there will be many more of these especially on the South Island I bought a 6 month hut pass for $90. No other country has this system and it is wonderful. It would have been a perfect place to spend the night but it was only 11:30am when I got here.
I had read a blog from last year by Kristine Collins. She describes the trail down from Mt Pirongia as The Hihikiwi Horror Track. It was definitely a mud fest. Deeper mud, more mud and more roots than the Rataea Forest. It was very slow going. From the hut to the top of Hihikiwi Peak was easy boardwalk and stairs. And then the fun began and went on and on and on.
There was a stream at the end of it and I spent some time rinsing off the mud from my pants, shoes and socks. A road walk never felt better.
There was no obvious place to camp shown on the map. Walking the road didn’t help. It’s all private property and the fences go right to the road. For the last hour there weren’t any houses to ask at. Finally the trail turned off the road to a farm road and I’m camped on the side of that. Sheep are just on the other side of the fence. And to top it off I could see the sun set from my tent. It’s one of my favorite campsites of the trip.