Day 31 – Mercer to Huntly

November 18, 2016

km traveled today: 7 km walked, plenty hitched (39 trail km bypassed, see post for explanation)

total TA km: 765

Groggily we, I guess just myself, rolled out of our sleeping bags and packed up camp in the wet grass. Touching my frigid, soaked socks made me want to cry. So I did the only logical thing there was to do. I went into the bathroom with both shoes and socks and stood under the hand dryer for about fifteen or twenty minutes warming my shoes and socks up.

With the morning routine over we headed up the paved road toward Huntly, a mere 40 something kilometers away. We turned off the road onto a socking wet track with tall grasses to ensure that not a spot in our bottom half was left dry. Soggy feet and wet legs carried us up and down a couple hills, through bogs and across flooded plains twenty or so feet across, all the while within sight and earshot of the highway. With some less than stellar work guiding us through the grass, Sam finally got us over the last hill.

At the third kilometer of the day we got out of the field. On the stile over the last fence was the classic orange triangle marking the trail, but below it read in sharpie, “bullshit path.” A very accurate description of the track we had just walked.

We ate a bar and marveled at the New Zealand wars site where it depicted the lopsided British Mauri battle of Meremere. After the bar and some mediocre water we walked down the gravel road towards the highway we were to cross to get to the river track. 

We crossed and remembered that the track notes told us to walk as close to the water as we could. With the flooded river, the only walking possible was right next to the highway. After two km of walking we decided that although the highway was pretty that we would walk closer to the stream. That was even worse. The tall grasses made the walking impossible and our ankles in the rough, quick rolling ground were bound to be turned again and again. We called it quits, sick of the awful highway walking and stuck our thumbs out. 

Not five minutes later we were picked up by a nice guy named Jason. He drove us 40 kilometers to Huntly.

We ate lunch outside of a fruit store and thanks to a lovely woman who gifted us a couple of golden kiwifruits, loved it. Judy picked us up shortly thereafter and drove us up the road to “Remember Then” her home and BnB/lawn for trampers. The nicest woman, she was so cheery and filled us with information about Huntly. By 1pm we were stretched out on her lawn with our tents up reading our kindles looking up at the mountains we are to climb tomorrow.

After a bunch of games of hearts we made a rushed pasta dinner and hurriedly put our stuff in the tents. Bruce piled us into his pickup truck and drove us to the race track. Full of excitement we walked into the race track, a full hour before the races began. The stock car races were awesome. With some hot donuts in us, a burger for a couple of us, and a free buffet for Jack, we froze ourselves thoroughly. The races were intense. The track was small, but the crashes were really exhilarating.

 The most amazing part of all of it were the races between children from 8 to 16 years old racing tiny cars at about 60-90 mph around the track. 

Even though the team stock car races didn’t really make total sense to us, we understood that the first person across the line won a bunch of points for the team, and that if you had a big crash the crowd went nuts. Straight forward enough, and the five on five racing was awesome.

At a late 9pm we were driven back by Judy. The stay with Judy was amazing and I could have taken ten rest days there. She offered us greenery from her garden and had hen and duck eggs out for us along with fresh milk and a hot shower. Remember Then gets a ten out of ten from us for all Judy does to run such an awesome spot so smoothly.



One thought on “Day 31 – Mercer to Huntly

  1. Thank you for your lovely comments Will, it was our pleasure to host you “ramblin-men” guys. A comment to your parents, well done, your sons are really lovely young men and a credit to you. PS Will, I posted your package at 9.34 this morning – track and trace number LD616152345NZ. A couple of goodies also enclosed 🙂 Cheers Judy xx


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