Hearing the first Christmas song being sung on the radio brought all the movement of what we were doing at the time to a standstill.  The beat, internalized, had one singing the words and thumping the foot.

It propels the mind to wander to loved ones be it family or friend.  Close and afar.  To new friendships made over the years. Even friendships lost over time for whatever the reason.  Happy thoughts.  Warm thoughts.  Missing presence thoughts.

We made the decision to stay on at the YHA Waitomo for a further two nights.  The atmosphere of this community has been our family leading up to the next part of the trail.  More so to have a sense of belonging as the big fat red fella’s day approaches.

The bodies have rested extremely well.  The minds nourished.

The squally downpour during one night pitter pattered rain hard against the canvas.  Our Kermit tent held fast and protected us from the elements.  The wind that blasted through yesterday buffeted its shape.  Our Kermit tent held fast again.

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We hitched a ride into Otorohanga to re-supply treating ourselves to a Mince and Cheese Pie and Sausage Roll.  Good god they were good!  Typical kai when one is a tourist needing a stomach top up to quench the thirst for pastry and sauce!

The heart of Otorohanga is all about New Zealand’s yesteryear.  They have immortalized Kiwiana absolutely superbly, where origins began and things were made to last with less processed inhabitants.

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Who remembers when milk was once delivered to your door step in glass bottles; the introduction of the television with only one channel in black and white; or “We are the boys from down on the farm, we really know our cheese … there’s much better value in Chesdale, it never fails to please?”

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Being the first country in the world to give women the vote; Edmund Hillary summiting Mount Everest; the first bungy jumping operation; to our haka being feared on the battlefields across the globe performed by the Maori Battalion.

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Yep.  An easily drive through township just up the road from bums where the sun doesn’t shine that attracts the hordes of folk in the thousands to want to come see.  Take the extra thumb ride into Otorohanga and learn about our identity.  It strengthened the sense of belonging, proud Kiwi’s more grateful for our Aotearoa.

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The feet need to get walking it.  Tomorrow we make our way to Tongariro National Park to complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, on Christmas Day.  Thumping to the beat of John Lennon’s ‘Happy Xmas’ song.  No chance to standstill we anticipate.

However, certainly warm thoughts to one and all.