Day 7 – Raetea Forest, what madness drove them in there?

Another crazy New Zealand jungle day… We hit the trail around 0830 and immediately started to ascend along a farm track. It was on overcast morning with very light drizzle but still has some great views back across the farmland. After about 2-3kms the trail cut into the jungle/forest and we began the first of five summits for the day. The first summit was really just an unnamed top that took us to 580m and into the start of the forest. This was very similar to the Herekino forest, very intense vertical climbs, not a lot of real trail and plenty of mud. This is the view looking towards the second summit, the 770m Raetea. It was 4km of very tough up and down tramping to get to the summit of the Raetea with large descents (going back below 400m) and then steep climbs. All of this through large amounts of thick mud. We ended up reaching the summit and lunch at about 1pm. There was no viewpoint so you just get a picture of Heather and I looking tired. Following lunch the slog continued around, a couple photos and video below attempting to show the thickness of the jungle and mud. We hit a point where we thought we had about 4 hours to go and then suddenly and surprisingly broke out onto some flat wide track that was a very welcome relief. Not focusing on carefully placing every footstep we began to realize how much the rest of our bodies were actually hurting. We even passed our first stile! The trail ended breaking out of the forest into farm land with sweeping views of the countryside. Coming down through the farm we ran into several very aggressive looking bulls who didn’t look happy to see us. We realized we were fairly surrounded by bulls and they each seem to be protecting a number of calves. We managed to navigate and yell our way through and got down to the farm house where two farmers told us not to worry about the dogs barking at us… You can see one of the bulls in the picture below. We ended the day at a small campsite down the road and survived a brief rainstorm to get the tent up. Two of the Northern forests down and two to go. This also marked our first full week on the trail which feels pretty great!

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