Everything hurt. My hip was killing me, my shoulders ached, my calves and thighs burned. Especially on anything even remotely resembling a hill. The flat bits were ok. On the flat bits, I felt like I could really go on forever, at least once I hit my stride and got a good walking rhythm going. Bethany and I decided we were going to write The Flattest Guide to Te Araroa. It wouldn,t even follow the trail, but would simply record our progress as we hiked randomly around New Zealand, choosing our paths based on their flatness. I think it would be hugely successful.
Going uphill, though, was quite a challenge. Luckily there weren't too many hills, though, and we did make good time. We arrived in Whakapapa Village around 11:30 in the morning. Only 1 hour more than the average it took for that walk and on our first day with packs - not bad! We treated ourselves to coffee, relaxed for a while, stopped by the ranger station, and headed on.
We found an idyllic campsite. Bethany spotted a likely looking field across the river from the track, with grassy spots and sandy spots, and dotted with bushes for cover. Apparently, a mother and son watched us, jaws agape, as we crossed the river barefoot with ungainly 50 pound packs and proceeded to scramble over the massive rocks on the other side. Still barefoot, boots slung over shoulders. It was well worth it, though. After another little scramble through the woods, we came upon our camp,shielded from view, with a tent-shaped sandy spot, access to the river, a place to hang our clothes, grass to sit on, bushes and trees for shade. Seriously. Perfect.
It's amazing how much time you have when pulled away from the world of work and technology. We spent 8 hours just relaxing. I cannot remember the last time I did that. We washed our clothes and ourselves in the river, played some music, played some cards, did yoga and stretched, took a nap, made and ate dinner, put up our tent and went to sleep. There was so much time, I almost didn't know what to do with myself, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.