Waikino Train Station to the Old Wires Track

As I ate breakfast the back of the chair dug into my spine…or was it my spine digging into the back of the chair?

We’re not really on a long walk. We’re on a new kind of diet, the Trail Diet, and it’s great! We can eat as much as we want as long as we carry it over several hundred kilometres of mountain ranges. The fat is just evaporating off our bodies.

The only drawback is the accompanying Trail-o-rexia. I’ve talked about it before but have neglected to properly explain its causes and symptoms. What happens is that the sufferer develops either a disinterest in food or an aversion to it when it’s on offer. Towns may be overflowing with all kinds of meals but the Trail-o-rexic forgets to load up on carbs, fat and protein as he or she walks through.

There are several possible reasons for this:

Embarrassment – to eat what is needed to sustain normal body mass would require multiple acts of public gluttony at takeaway joints and friend’s places.

Vanity – the sufferer has a cocktail dress he or she used to wear as a youngster that they’d like to try out when they get home. Trail-o-rexia offers the sufferer an extra wardrobe option once he or she leaves the trail.

Endorphins – these ‘homemade’ painkillers are also diet suppressants and can cause the sufferer to simply forget to eat when food is on offer.

Stupidity – the loss of body weight caused by The Trail Diet causes the brain to shrink thus causing the dieter to become thicker the more they walk. As they get thicker they forget to eat. It’s a vicious circle.

Stomach shrinkage – if your stomach shrinks you get fuller faster. This means that a big order of fish and chips just won’t fit. The Trail-o-rexic knows this subconsciously so never bothers buying fish and chips…even if it’s possible and a good idea.

Trail-o-rexia is sexist – men seem more susceptible to the disorder for some reason. Check out the blogs of trail hikers from anywhere and you’ll see their photographs populated mainly by scrawny dudes. Women lose weight but seem to put on muscle.

I lost 11.5 kgs when Fiona and I walked the South Island and I’m well on my way to doing the same thing this time.

Happily it all returned a couple of months after our return to civilization. It doesn’t seem to do any damage and I’d suggest it’s a great way to reset the modern body.

Interestingly I ‘suffer’ from high cholesterol. Without taking medication I sit between 8 and 9 on the cholesterol scale. A bad place to be.

As an experiment I stopped taking my medication when we walked The South. Although I lost huge amounts of weight by exercising and limiting my diet…my cholesterol was 8.5 on my return home. A ‘healthy’ adult shouldn’t be above 5…or 4…or 2…or something small.

What’s this got to do with our journey? Long distance hiking is about more than ticking off miles and seeing stuff. Hiking is also about the physical and mental journey…an often uncomfortable thing. Which is how I felt as my spine dented the back of the chair I sat in on the morning of day 52.


Gary, whose cafe serves fish and chips (I never bought any for obvious reasons) dropped us off at the wonderful Waihi Train Station. As he drove away we bought our tickets to Waikino and found a seat in one of two beautiful old carriages. We got our tickets clipped and the little diesel locomotive took us back to where we would start our day’s walk.

All aboard!

The Waihi Express

We’d recommend the train ride to anyone. The train carries bikes so people can take the shared path back to Waihi after having a cafe meal at the historic station, but it also does return trips several times throughout the day so punters can have a look around the remains of the old Victoria Battery across the river. In its day it crushed huge amounts of ore and extracted gold and silver from the dust. A ferocious piece of steampunk if ever there was one, it was the biggest such plant in the world at the time, it worked six days a week and could be felt 10 kilometres away in Waihi.

We had a coffee at the cafe then headed up the road on the start of our assault on the Coromandel.

The weather was clear and hot, the road was quiet. In the two and a half hours we spent walking up it’s often steep rises we only met about four cars. It was a perfect country walk that followed a valley stream network uphill.

As we climbed the farmland gave way to a mixture of regenerating native bush and pine plantation. It was tiring but we were cooled by a large and threatening cloud as well as the often tall forest we walked through.

Near the top we came to another of Waihi’s old gold operations.

Much of our journey has been inspired by a guy called Rex Hendry who walked a similar, but much harder, spinal route to us in the eighties. We’re pretty sure he’d walked this very valley road southwards in the eighties.

In between his journey and ours a multinational gold company has been through our shared trail and turned a small mountain beside it into dust. Like the Victorian Battery the enterprise extracted the gold using innovative techniques and cyanide. Like the Victorian Battery they’ve left signs warning people of toxic waste.

As we walked around the hole that is left it was amazing to think how quickly the gold disappeared. An old sign proudly boasts that the company could extract 2.1 grams of gold from a tonne of ore.

O for Oresome!

Nikau, Maritoto Track

Maritoto Track

Golden Cross Mine remains

The mine sits on one side of the saddle that took us to the Maritoto Track and down through Nikau and Kauri forest to the start of our journey for the next day.  

As we came out of the small piece of forest an hour or so later we found another warning sign.

This time asbestos was going to kill us if we ignored the torn warning tape and accidentally walked through the broken gate. Perhaps we were suffering from a lack of food, but we soon found ourselves in mortal danger as we wandered through what looked like an old school camp or DoC base, looking for a tentsite.

We found the feng shui to be slightly lacking, so made our way back under the tape and wandered down the valley –  thankful that we were still alive – until we came to an abandoned quarry.

This time the warning sign asked us to ‘please not enter’ before saying we could enter ‘at our own risk’. Being the thrill seekers that we are we did and soon found ourselves in front of an old fire circle beside a stream with our tent up.

Toxic shleter, Maritoto Road

The old fire circle was soon put to good use and we ate our instant noodles and tuna while the sun set on the impressive Maritoto peak behind us.

Campsite below Maritoto peak

As we turned in for the night another copper coloured stream chattered beside us and the local Ruru ‘more porked’. It wasn’t awesome…but it was really nice.