‘Just take your shoes off and go wading’ – Waitomo

6th August

Waitomo was our chance to get our head around the Stray itinerary but we also fancied the opportunity to go ‘tramping’.

Kind Steph-with-dreadlocks offered to drive us over to the start of Waitomo’s most popular two hour walk. She’s really lovely. However, on the drive it soon became apparent just how much it had rained the day and night before. The area in which we would mainly be walking was completely flooded. As much as Steph’s suggestion to go bare foot wading through the floods was romantically attractive, practically it wasn’t a good idea. The road back was our only option.

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But first we were going to attempt our second bush walk. This turned out to be SO much better than the first one. The Ruakuri walk was a Jurassic park look-a-like walk with natural caves, tunnels and a spectacular waterfall. It felt otherworldly, enhanced by the fact that we didn’t see a soul.

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After wandering up and down the hills and marching through the forestry (oh and plunging one foot into quite a deep puddle BUT not getting a wet foot- thanks Dads for whatever waterproofing miracle you did on my shoes!) we began the walk back to the hostel.

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New Zealand’s weather really is bizarre. Although it is dead into their winter when the sun is out it’s like a rare English summers day. Probably pushing 18 degrees. We met very few cars on the road and passed the time reenacting musicals.

The Waitomo convenience store fed us some splendid hot chocolate cake. This is Waitomo’s only store for essentials, essentials being the important word as the shop sells only the bare necessities to live off of. Residents have to travel 16km to the nearest town to do a big shop ( we would go though this town later and there still wasn’t a lot there). However, the convenience store did have some amazing homemade food (and free wifi) so we were happy.

On returning to the hostel we spoke to the pig and he definitely spoke back to us.

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Just some more pasta, films and chats with Steph and Alison and bed.

We can’t say enough good things about Juno Hall. Yes it might be remote and there isn’t a lot to do in Waitomo but the hostel is so well looked after and the owners and those who work there are so lovely that it is a wondeful place to stay. A highlight of the trip so far. If you want a couple of days away from it all, to get a good nights sleep and relax in from of the tv next a log burning stove this is the place. Home from home. Thank you Steph, Dave and Juno.

Flo x

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