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Day 63 Ostrich Encounter

Wednesday 11 December Taumarunui to somewhere on 42 Traverse Start 7.50am Finish 6.15pm Distance 35.5km Total 1086.5km Steps 55,470 Elevation approx 500m Weather: Stunning and very warm

No great expectations with today. There was 27km of road walking before the 4 wheel drive/cycle track of the 42 Traverse. About 6km into the day I was wondering if I would have many opportunities for photos. The farmland was all very pretty but nothing new or inspiring. Within 1 minute of having that thought I rounded a corner at the top of a steady uphill climb I was doing, and there, right in front of me, standing magnificently and sparkling in the sun was Mt Ruapehu. It was covered in snow! That, I wasn't expecting. Not just a small amount on the top, it covered the majority of the mountain. I stood in awe for some considerable time.

First sighting of Mt Ruapehu

I now really couldn't wait to reach it, noting despite its size in my view, it was still two and a half days walk away.

With a huge smile on my face I carried on my merry way, before coming across a thoroughly entertaining ostrich. Yes, an actual ostrich. It was sharing a paddock with a couple of huge bulls, some young cows, a number of horses, and a few rabbits for good measure.

Ostrich encounter

After posing for several photos it followed me along the considerable fence line. If I stopped, it stopped. If I walked backwards it changed direction. As we approached the end of the fence it got on its knees and did me a dance. So highly entertaining, and weird, and the last thing in the world I expected to see today (or any other day for that matter).

That encounter had me laughing out loud for a long time.

Today my feet have been pretty good, and I made sure I took regular breaks and massaged them each time. I delayed my lunch break, anticipating a cafe at Owhango. I had been salivating for at least a couple of hours before arriving, in anticipation of what delight I would have. I was also looking forward to an icecream in view of how hot it was.

Whakapapa River at the start of the 42 Traverse track

I walked 0.5km off the trail (that's a big deal I can assure you), to arrive at the cafe. It was CLOSED! There wasn't even somewhere to buy an icecream. Sucking it up, I sat under the cool shade of a tree and ate my own lunch, while listening to the peaceful sounds of the cars going by and the freight train on the railway line about 10m behind me. Oh the tranquility.

I was in a good head space so it all just made me laugh.

I decided to push on rather than stay the night in Owhango, and started the 42 Traverse Trail with the intent of stopping when I was tired combined with a relatively flat spot to pitch the tent. Luckily the two things coincided and here I am listening to Morpork and other birds as the sun is setting.

Campsite Night 63

One great outcome of the big distances I achieved last section is that I now know I can. So today's distance, although big, just didn't phase me at all. Also helping in the psychology of it was knowing I could stop any time I wanted. I didn't have to get to a certain destination. The freedom makes me happy, and even though I usually get minimal sleep in the tent I have a big smile on my face as I lie here contemplating the day I have had and the one I will experience tomorrow. Sweet dreams. 

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