Palmerston North 1476km to Levin 1536km (Day 74 – 77)
This section of the Manawatu was magnificent. Great tracks, some lovely forest, some working pine forest, decent facilities. Hard work and mud too, of course.
One highlight was a new whare shelter at the nominal halfway mark of 1500km! We shared the evening with 3 German guys, Valerie (we met on Timber Trail) and Swiss Adrien (we met before Whanganui River). All had tall stories of their TA experience so far. The best was probably Toby, who was on his 4th pair of shoes!
Burtton’s track was hauntingly beautiful (if a little muddy). It had been built by Jim Burtton in the early 1900s to get to his house in the bush. Must have been a tough nut, with a big drive for solitude. Even now it is a couple of days out of civilization, deep in a valley.
The next section was almost new in comparison, only opened in 2008! 4hrs of steady climb to reach a non-lookout near the 671m summit. Overgrown trees, meant you could only really see the Tararua’s higher than us! Still, a nice spot to picnic, before the even more gruelling decent. I went knee-deep in the mud at one point. Pete laughing his sympathy naturally. Then, once the toe-nail crushing decent was done, there was a zig-zag across a stream….about 20 times! Interspersed by patches of mud of course. Boots cleaned, then back to solid mud blocks again. Someone had a sense of humour building this track!
The reward though was worth it. 2 nights at Makahika Outdoor Pursuits Centre, hosted by Sally and John. Look it up, and then find a way to get there. Gorgeous people, with an amazing facility, in a stunning location. And it was Xmas! Ham and turkey long lunch for the 10 TAers, and the family. Even a little wine to aid festivities.
The end of this section was a 3hr walk over the hill to Levin. Up through forestry, then some regenerating natives, then back down through pines. All of Levin seemed to be out, shedding xmas excesses. After 4 days in the bush, we were back in mainstream kiwiland. All the better for our Manawatu bush trekking.