Pohangina Village to Po Base
Road walking has a bad reputation among long distance trail hikers. It’s jarring on tendons and bones and can often cause injuries that require long periods of rest and sometimes complete withdrawal from a trip.
It can also be stressful. Busy roads are noisy, violent places for walkers. The threat of death and severe injury as cars and trucks hurtle by for hours on end can be exhausting. Listening to music would help but can often add to the danger.
But roads have their good points. They are a great way of getting somewhere fast. A day on a road can get a walker up to 50kms (yes, many walkers will walk that far in a day) toward their goal whereas some tramping tracks can cut speed down to 1-2kph.
Some roads can even be nice places to walk. Walking from Pohangina Valley from the Pohangina township is one such journey. The day we walked it it was close to heavenly (for a road.)
The morning started crisp, clear and still. The fields were covered in a cool dew and magpies filled the air with their quardling, ardling and doodling. As we walked further up the valley Tui and bellbirds joined the orchestra. Warblers and fantails tried to join in but were often drowned out.
There was hardly any traffic and the air was so still we could hear the few vehicles that were on the road coming from miles away. We were safe. The weather was perfect. We were well and truly on our way again.
‘Doesn’t the Kereru lady live round here somewhere?’ I asked Fiona a little after we’d stopped for lunch at Totara Reserve, a remnant piece of impressive lowland forest.
‘I wouldn’t know,’ she replied offhandedly.
We use a skin cream made by a small Manawatu business called Kereru for all our on-trail skin problems…of which there are many. Made from Calendula, Manuka, lanolin, oil and beeswax it gets us out of all sorts of sticky situations. Rashes, pox, toe jam, wrinkly wet feet…if it oozes, itches or just needs some TLC, Kereru cream does the trick.
In the field on our left sat a gypsy caravan. A woman had just left it and was driving through the gate and back onto the road.
‘Would you like a cup of tea? Come down the road and you can raid my orchard.’ She suggested with no prompting from us. We accepted and as we talked it dawned on me…
It was Bev The Kereru Lady! Not only was she saving our feet but we were about to get some real Pohangina Hospitality from her.
Her house is an old-school hippy hideaway full of the smell of incense, fresh herbs and spices. A brand new commercial kitchen (is that what you call a place where potions are made?) sits in a relaxed garden groaning with fruit, veggies and herbs.
After a cuppa and a chat we raided the Orchard. Apples, pears, plums, nashi and grapes were sampled and bagged. We had more than enough when she showed us to the Mulberry tree.
There is only one word to describe the taste and texture of the swollen red berries that dripped from the three metre tree and it doesn’t really do the job well.
Bev plied us with some Kereru Soap as we put our packs on then topped it all off with a bag of roasted Hazelnuts.
I’ll say it again. ‘Wow!’ We had just experienced the ultimate Trail Angel.
You may be wondering how we could carry our full packs AND a couple of kilos of fruit and nuts. Well, our packs were on their way to our destination by car. Janet, who we’d stayed with the night before, was going to deliver them for us that evening. (I’d call her a Trail Angel too, but she’d probably tell me to stop being so bloody stupid, so I won’t.)
Our road walk may have been done under optimal conditions but it was still hard and hot work. Near the top of a particularly gnarly rise we came across a small bush track with a sign that read: Kahikatea Walk. 30minutes.
It would’ve been rude not to and besides it was cool under the thick canopy of trees. There only seem to be about eight Kahikatea in the small forest but they’re pretty impressive things.
An episode of tree hugging took place and I spent five minutes lying on the ground trying to photograph a toadstool. Once we came to our senses there was nothing for it bit to stride on to our home for the night.
Pohangina Base is a DoC Field Centre that no one works at anymore. It’s pretty run-down but is a handy asset for travellers, workers and meetings.
It has a kitchen, good bathroom facilities, cabins and plenty of campervan and tent space. In a tourist hub it would be prime real estate. In the Manawatu…meh…but we reckon it’s great as did the two possum trappers who were staying there the night we went through.
They were from Haumoana and had come over to clear some local farms. As we were all in the pest eradication business we got on like a house on fire. Swapping tips, news and gossip from the world of killing stuff.
We had been expecting the DoC Biodiversity team that we’d meet at Mangahao Hut to call in but it seemed that their plans had changed. We cooked up Bev’s fruit and nuts into a sort of crumble and shared it around. It was perfect with the beers Janet had dropped off with our packs.
Then it was time to prepare for the long haul to the Taupo.Batteries were recharged, clothes were washed and our last showers were had.
The next day we’d be back in the bush.