A lot more road today. We went slightly off trail last night to get a good camping spot and were very lucky to be able to get a ride the 2kms back (uphill) to the trail in the morning. After that it was standard two lane New Zealand road. A lot of nice views of the countryside and a lot more cows, but a lot more roads. We went really close to two of the major highways which wasn’t great, hopefully a few years from now they’ll have managed to shift the trail around these. It was a brutally hot day as well and virtually no breeze for the whole day with a lot of direct sun exposure. Hot enough that Heather pointed out I was leaving footprints in the road… We did manage to get off the road for a bit and followed some farm track along by a stream leading to the Waikato river. It was a nice break from the road but we were already pretty tired by then and the ground was hazardous to our ankles from the cattle walking along in the mud. We did run into a small group of them and the bull decided we needed to take a detour down towards the stream and around. Heather attempted to make less of a detour and nearly managed to induce a charge. The track the followed along New Zealand’s highway 1 until we hit Mercer, our destination for the night. Podge’s Place is a great little spot in Mercer that let’s TA hikers camp for free. They’ve got a lovely grass spot out behind their pub and motel and serve yum pizza and plenty of beer. They only started doing this recently when a random hiker came in and asked if they had somewhere to pitch a tent, since then through word of mouth more and more keep showing up. Now they’re a token stop on the trail and still welcoming all walkers, Podge and Sandra are fast becoming Te Ararao legends.