Our mate Warren offered to drop us off somewhere down the road South to pick up the TA trail.
When we arrived at what we thought would be a place with 9kms to walk to Rangariri Bridge, it was road walking. Warren continued to abduct us, hold us prisoner and keep driving.
Huntly came and went. It was where we were going to walk to tomorrow before hitching a ride to Hamilton. We have no pictures as evidence that we were even there as we drove slowly by the Huntly Power Station that straddles the mighty Waikato River. It looked old and tired with smoke stakes rising up into the sky and power lines sprawling out in all directions.
No pictures of Ngaruawahia neither! Sadly, the tone of that community is re-known for it being the capital ‘P’ drug town. Recently, a local gang-member threatened suppliers and users to get out of town or else in an attempt to clean up the place. He was shot and lost and eye. We continued driving.
It’s also home to the current Māori monarch, Tuheitia Paki who was crowned in 2006. It’s a non-constitutional role with no legal power but more a reign over several tribes from the area. Being of Ngāi Tahu descent from the southern region, there are no faces or cups or flags with faces of the King in our possessions.
Our abduction came to an end when Warren chucked us out at Te Rapa just north of Hamilton. We were appreciative at yet a further act of kindness again to have us taken 50 minutes up the road by car where as it would have been four days of walking. His departing comment was that it was far enough so we couldn’t walk back to his place; he wished us ‘Merry Christmas’ and drove off with head still shaking at the thought of what we are doing!
For the next 6kms, we walked the Waikato River Walk track and with the sun out, it was just lovely. The river is the longest in New Zealand, running for 425kms. It rises in the eastern slopes of Mount Ruapehu, joining the Tongariro River system and emptying into Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. The river then snakes a path to empty out into the Tasman Sea.
The volume of water was immense, ripples of current warning it’s strength not to be taken for granted. A ball from a passer-by on the opposite bank was tossed into the middle and in plunged a dog to brave the torrent and retrieve it to return to shore. The animal was a strong swimmer as the ball was repeatedly tossed in again for retrieval.
The mighty Waikato when translated means flowing water. It is held with ancestral mana to local Māori tribes, the king of all rivers.