Progress called today, and I was on my bike by mid-morning, heading for Waitomo. Bruce, co-owner of Huhu Cafe and Store in Waitomo, contacted me after reading updates on my blog since he saw me on national TV when I was still in China.
Once again I stuck to the back roads, and headed south out of Hamilton onto Highway 39. Pirongia Forest Park was my constant companion to the west for most of the morning and afternoon, until I arrived in Otorohanga. A quick call to Bruce confirmed that the Waitomo Valley Road was the better alternative to the main road to Waitomo from Otorohanga.
I got to Waitomo late afternoon, just before the rain started.
“You can stay here if you want,” Bruce said when I arrived. “Or you can come up to our place about 30km south from here. We live up on a hill in a great spot.”
Bruce’s long time friend Mike Howie was at the cafe also, down from Auckland for a quiet Labour Weekend at Bruce’s. I joined him for the roller coaster drive from Waitomo to just past Te Kuiti to Bruce’s. The land here is either up or down. Sharp limestone ridges and deep valleys, all covered with a fur of fluroescent green grass, punctuated by white fluffy dots (sheep).
Bruce and his wife Melanie live in a spectacular location. The house is situated in the heart of the King Country, surrounded by Maori history. The mythical birth place of Maori royalty is a short 15 minute walk away, and the site of defence towers are visible from the verandas. The home is designed with a DOC bush hut in mind, with rough cut materials and bare utilitarian utilities. The view is spellbinding, capturing my attention for long moments between balancing conversation with the family and wanting to just close myself off and stare at the view.