After a good night in the tent we started with an early morning breakfast at the place next to our campsite. The breakfast was called “The Big Day” and was supposed to be pre hiking the Tongariro Crossing. We figured we’d be hiking anyway so we may as well take advantage of it. We packed up our gear after breakfast, slid into our still wet clothes (as an aside, the weather has been cold in the mornings to getting hot and sunny by 8am, by 1pm it’ll be thunder and by 2-3pm it’ll be raining and our newly dried clothes will be soaked again. From there it doesn’t get warm enough to dry our clothes by morning – everyday), and continued along the trail. We had a 13.5km track to start with that wound through forest climbing and descending steep muddy banks to cross streams. The mud wasn’t horrible and we were commenting how it’s been so nice to not have any farm track recently, I’m sure there’ll be more to come. The forest was a good mix of nice soft track and some harder muddy parts. We came to a junction after the Whakapapaiti stream bridge and then continued on North (yes, we were frustrated as well to be heading North on a South bound hike) through open tussock. The tussock provided great views of the volcanoes but was very boggy and dangerous to our ankles, we’re both feeling pretty sore in that department tonight. We stopped for lunch at the Mangahuia campsite and then continued on the last 6km on road to National Park Village. We arrived here around 1pm and could’ve continued to push on but as our canoe trip was scheduled for a few days from now there wouldn’t have been much benefit to arriving early. Instead we checked in to the YHA and got ourselves a bed for the night (beating today’s rainshowers) and a shower. We spent most of the afternoon in a local coffee shop/cafe ordering gear we’ll need for the South island from the US and generally using a lot of WiFi (we’ll have nothing from here until after the canoe trip). We have two not very exciting days ahead of us (one and a half of which will be on road), but we’re both really looking forward to the canoe section. It’s a luxury of being in the North island that we’re able to enjoy all the amenities like we are and it certainly feels a little bit unnecessary at times (we’ve showered for three days in a row now…) But we’re appreciating finally having a night inside and going to bed dry. Hopefully soon the weather pattern will change a bit, otherwise we’ll be bailing water a lot in the canoe.