The storm didn’t break at all overnight so we woke up to plenty of wind and rain. We’d managed to stay dry in our sleeping bags on the therm-a-rest (blow up mattress) but there were definitely puddles forming on the bottom of the tent. Our clothes were pretty wet too. Knowing we only had about five hours and 15km of hiking to go for the day helped us get going and once we were on the move we were able to stay warm. We still couldn’t see a thing and were just following some bush along next to a farm road for the first hour before dropping into some nicer forest. The forest quickly changed into a muddy slide down to a large and overflowing river. We’d read about this in the notes, including that it wasn’t recommended to pass during excessively bad weather. When we arrived it looked pretty bad but as we gingerly stepped out we found it didn’t really come much higher than shin level and was quite easily fordable. The trail continued after the river in the same slippery and muddy fashion with the added benefit of having to fight off New Zealand’s gorse bush. This is essentially an extremely prickly bush that is a real pain to walk through, the trail was covered in this for awhile. We got through this and broke out onto the road descending into Waitomo and the Hamilton Tomo Group hut where we’re staying tonight. It was fortunate timing for us as we’d wanted to be able to do the black water caving (jumping and floating through caves in rubber tubes lit by glowworms). We managed to jump on an afternoon tour and spent some time off our feet and enjoyed a good meal in town. Unfortunately we couldn’t take any photos in the cave but a quick Google search will show you the general idea. As a bonus, I was able to capture a video of Heather removing her first toenail on the trail.