I woke up a bit worried. Due to my toes...my whinge-ury...we'd stopped a few ks early yesterday. That meant day seven was going to be a 38k slog.
That night we were booked in at Dave and Monica's place at Ohai, where there was a box of supplies for the Takitimus and a nice bed waiting for us.
The medic strapped up my toes and we started walking after a see-you-later to Graeme at 8.30. Down a gravel road out of the forest and onto a farm road we "strode".
The sun was out and there was a slight breeze - hopefully enough to keep my inner thighs dry. But you didn't need to know that. It wasn't long before we came across Trail Nice Guys Peter and Murrell. They were out cutting firewood for the winter.
They gave us some useful directions, but wondered why the track didn't take us the quick way over the hills. When we told them the farmer probably hadn't given Te Araroa access they said they'd go and have a "worrrrd" with him. "He's a good bloke".
We soon reached a short stretch of "proper" road before hitting the farm track that would lead us up the hill Peter and Murrell disapproved of. It was tricky finding the right path across the farm so we stopped for a couple of marmite crackers and Whiona checked the Garmin.
Up and over Island Bush.
The farm roads that were to take us to our halfway point went through some beautiful pasture country. Fields of freshly cut hay. Buttercups. Cabbage trees. Hot blue skies.
At the 19k mark the sign said we had 8 hours to go. I texted our Ohai pickup, Dave, with the news that he'd have to pick us up from Struans Flat Road at nine o'clock.
My feet oozed a sigh.
It was time for a drink and some drugs.
Codeine and Diclofenac are good for toothaches. They also work well on pulverised toes. Whiona had a couple of Panadeine and we plugged in our music.
As the drugs and MP3s did their duty we pounded up into Woodlaw Forest. Ugly pine gave way to delicious beech. Tall, thin regrowth mixed with some huge old trees.
There's this band. They're called Sigur Rós. Apparently they're from Iceland. I think it's safe to say their music is indescribable. At least I can't describe it.
As I walked up the hill one of their quirkier "songs" took hold of my vulnerable mind.
Single notes. Haunting notes. No real melody. No rhythm. Long pauses.
"Wow!" I called out to Whiona who couldn't hear me because she was listening to something that made sense.
"Wow. This is amazing music. It's perfect. Nothing much happens then there's a long pause then it starts again. These Scandinavians are so cool."
Fifteen minutes later I realised I had the song on repeat. It was only two and a half minutes long and I'd been playing it for half an hour.
But it and the codeine had done the trick.
The forest ended in manuka. A sweet honey smell took us to the top of the hill and a transmitter farm that looked like something from East Germany circa 1978.
We had another rest and ate the last of our snacks - six pieces of chocolate and some honey. We still had eleven kilometres to go.
We started down from the top of the hill, onto high farmland and overshot the turnoff by about a kilometre. When we got back on track we were faced with a VERY steep descent. Going up with a full pack Sobo (southbound) would be bloody hard. Going down with an empty pack Nobo (northbound) was just bloody painful.
At the bottom we really felt the part as we herded a few hundred sheep with our lancewood crooks. Perhaps we should have stopped for a smoke and a Speights, Southern Man style - but we were caning it so continued.
At the bottom of the hill Te Araroa throws walkers another googly. Instead of taking us sensibly along a gravel road we are supposed to divert through some lovely farmland.
We'd done an extra couple of ks when we got lost earlier on so figured we wouldn't be cheating if we took the slightly easier route.
600 metres before we reached Struans Flat Road I got a text from Dave. Yep, he was happy to come and get us at 9.
We were there at 6.45. Dave would have to come early. And he did.