Today we formally passed any and all of the halfway points on the trail. We passed the 1500km mark coming into Palmerston North, but the trail is longer than 3000km now so that didn’t count. We passed what currently seems to be the official marker (some guy who has put a sign outside his house) just before lunch. Then we passed a very official marker on the Back Track claiming that it was at 1500km and it was the halfway point (it did caveat that it was from a previous season. Either way we’re camping tonight at about 1536km which is further than half of the 3041km shown on the official map. So one way or another we passed halfway today!
We had a nice slow start to the morning and enjoyed coffee and breakfast at the hosts house before getting going. They were great hosts and taking an extra night here was definitely worth it, we were both a lot more tired than we thought. They even had large printouts of the maps and were walking through the recommendations on where to camp and get water for the next two days before getting to the Tararuas. It was all very helpful. They take a photo of everyone who stays before they leave and stick it in the book that we sign. We saw the other American couple in there and a lot of other names we recognized. It was actually pretty weird to see pictures of people to associate with the names. We weighed our packs before leaving too and mine was 16.4kg and Heather’s 13.5kg. This included six days of food and 1.75L of water each so pretty good. We set out in a light shower that quickly disappeared and continued right along across the bridge.
The path cut under the bridge and went into a small forest park. We followed this around a stream and up and over some small hills. We mostly stayed on this track for the first half of the day with the occasional cut back onto a road. It was a really nice and peaceful track and we only passed a few cyclists and horse riders the whole time.
Eventually we arrived at a mountain bike park and the start of the Back Track. This was a nice gravel like track that climbed gently through the park with the occasional good view.
From there it was onto another gravel road on the other side of the track and then into a DOC pine forest. The forest has been recently replanted so there’s a lot of young pines here but on the recommendation of last night’s hosts we’re camping next to a small stream in the forest. It’s started to rain and we expect this to keep up for most of the night and tomorrow too but for now we’ve made it dry inside the tent with everything waterproofed.