Day 5: Riverton to Otautau

Friday 27 January 2017

  • Km today: 31
  • Total Km: 127

I seriously couldn’t wait any longer to get underway. Two days in Riverton had been a pleasant break but I didn’t think I warranted such niceties at this early in the journey. The weather over the longwoods didn’t look any better so I decided to walk to Otautau via the road instead. I would be following the Riverton-Otautau road so I shouldn’t get lost either. It was overcast but doable I thought. A few kms out of town and the showers started. I trudged along for a bit then sheltered behind some flax bushes in a paddock until there was a little break in the rain. However it didn’t last long so I managed to get to the cemetery where totara trees made great shelter. There was a large epitaph to Captain John Howell who foundered Riverton. Unfortunately he also thought it a good idea to establish rabbits for food and hunting. Hmm maybe not his best work.

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The rain wasn’t abating so I set off from the cover of the trees along the road. Fortunately there wasn’t much traffic this morning so I wasn’t getting splashed by passing vehicles and for the most part I had the road to myself. The rain stopped and I could see it clearing to the west so I was able to take off my wet weather cover and continue onwards with the skies brightening. The farmland was all given over to dairying and I said hello to most of the girls along the way, although their rush to the fence was likely more food induced than providing me with company. The pace was enjoyable too, as I took in the well tendered farms, the names on the letterboxes; Haycroft is a historic local name and Mrs Milne has a lovely country garden with old roses along the road fence. At one point I heard a siren behind me and turned to see the St John Ambulance rush past, Anne-Marie beaming and waving from the passenger seat. I was waving madly back. It provided a real boost to my walk. A little further along the road at Fairfax I stopped for a rest where there was a collection of railway wagons and a small locomotive. There was a railway line running adjacent to the road by this point but I didn’t see any trains and wondered if it was even in operation.

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The next minute a R44 came swooping over and landed in a nearby farm. As I walked along it took off again with a suspended bucket and was spraying some crops, the pilots abilities most evident in flying and spraying a crop surrounded with wind breaks. After a couple of trips the chopper flew off presumably to other work. I was nearly at Otautau and I think it was about 3pm.I I had been craving something sweet again. A V would be great right now. I passed the towns welcome sign and had to take a picture because the barbed wire fence in front appealed to my sense of humour.

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A little further on and I was in town. I could have done with a flat white but couldn’t see anywhere that would do a good one so continued through town to the 4 Square which is on the way out. It seemed like most people stopped there rather than in the main street. I also passed the St John station however it was closed. I needed a basket for the cravings I had –  bottle of V, chocolate bar, steak & cheese pie, apricot.. and then a lady appeared in front of me and said she had seen me walk through town. I explained that I was walking from Bluff to Cape Reinga whilst raising money for St John. Bless her if she wasn’t already reaching into her wallet to give me money but I said no it can be done via my blog which I wrote down for her. Her name was Gwen and she left some money with the shop keeper to go towards my purchases. Well if that isn’t pure kiwi generosity! Thank you Gwen you made my day. A few minutes later and my stash safely in my tummy I was off down the road to the Tuatapere Junction. I needed to hitch a ride to Merrivale road. There was a brief shower then I stuck out my thumb. It wasn’t a long wait when Sarah pulled over and I bundled aboard with her and kids. The 12km pass quickly when you are not walking and shortly afterwards Sarah dropped me off at the end of my road. I would be staying the night through the hospitality of St John, at a farm house and the owners are away. The house and garden was beautiful and I had a self-contained unit attached to the main house. How luxurious! The property had 2 house dogs and not knowing what their names were, I gave them Big Dog and Little Dog. Not imaginative but they didn’t seem to mind. I had just put my pack down when Big Dog summonded me around to the back of the house where there was a wood shed. He/she extracted a piece of timber and dropped it at my feet. It had the measure of me already that dog. So I happily played along for the afternoon. Fortunately after every 10 or so throws, the dog would be content to chew on the wood for a while, whilst I would get on with drying my gear and making some dinner. Later however when I was getting ready for bed and wasn’t playing along I got a real telling off in the form of a plastic bag torn to shreds and no dog to be seen. I had such a cosy bed and a big day ahead so jumped in early. There was a big fat wood pigeon right outside my window. An excellent end to the day.

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