Te Araroa Trail Ports Water Race
I woke at 6 am and snuggled in my sleeping bag for a while, delaying getting up for as long possible, as it was so cold! When I did, I managed to make my breakfast and cup of tea from the comfort and warmth of my sleeping bag. I left Martin’s hut at 7.20 am and headed along the Cascades track, which led into the winding Ports Water Race track.
Ports Water Race Te Araroa Trail
The Ports Water Race (now a big ditch running to the side of the path) was built in the 1870s to supply water during gold mining times. It was abandoned in 1950.
The trail was easy to follow, and I feel terrible for saying this, but I found it a little bit boring, to be honest. It twisted and turned along the contour of the hill with the ditch to the side. Sometimes there was a river to cross, the odd fallen tree to climb over and the occasional log balance or scramble up or down to cross a gully.
Along the way, I kept getting painfully spiked by a plant offloading their tiny seeds on the end of tiny little needles! It took me ages to identify the plant, then I eventually found it – a grass, with small brown seeds at the end, which looked harmless enough, but when I brushed past it, the seeds caught on my leg hair, pulled out the seed and dug the needle into my skin! That’s what you get for not shaving for a month…!
Taking the shortcut
I was really keen to get out of the forest. So keen, that I took the Mathieson exit at km 2949 which led through farmland to the road. It shaved about 13 km off the day’s walk (and skipped the Long Hilly Track). I reached the farm at 1 pm. From there it was an easy walk along gravel road to Colac Bay.
Colac Bay Tavern
The NOBOs had told me about the food available at the marvellous Colac Bay Tavern and campground. I enjoyed an enormous burger with cheese egg, bacon and beetroot plus a side of chips, and a pint of Speights beer. I bought a chocolate and hazelnut magnum for dessert.
While I ate, a wonderful slice of life took place in the corner. Judging by the way they looked, a bunch of lads on a stag ‘do came in to sink a few pints. I watched them play a (really simple in theory, but difficult-looking in practice) game which involved swinging a string attached to the ceiling, with a ring on the end, onto a hook on the wall (a bull’s nose)… Fascinating!
After lunch, I checked into a little cabin, washed my filthy socks and had a shower. I spent the late afternoon watching films I’d downloaded from Netflix in my little cabin. After 3 days with wet feet, my eczema is back, so I slapped on some cream in the hope it will be gone again by tomorrow. It’ll be amazing to sleep in a bed tonight!