After Nikki dropped us back on the trail, we road walked for a bit and then up once again into the forest. We were once again leap frogging with S.K. and L. H. The trail led up to a damn that had sheep grazing on it and we ran into Peter from the U.K. He was taking a slightly light day and hoped to camp at the repeater camp in the woods. We were hauntingly reminded of the Raetea forest as our afternoon was full of tripping on vines and searching for arrows. It was also disconcerting that our GPS map did not line up with what we were walking upon and the water source we had been shooting for was out of reach for an extended amount of time. As we neared our destination and found that the trail eventually led down to the stream, we ran into Paul, a native Kiwi, who was heading down to meet a mate in the nearest town. We both gathered water and Jeff and I camped shortly after in the bush.
We knew beforehand that this day would once again involve a lot of horizontal movement (i.e. no mountains/hills) and basically we did just that. Our day began with an early road walk over to a burm that followed a the Waikato River pretty much all of the day. As we headed up onto the berm, we saw Paul being dropped off by his friend whom he had stayed with the night before. He looked chiper and showered, and told us he hoped to make it to Mercer, the next town over, beforee 10:30 am in order to hit their McDonald's breakfast.. ah, thru hiking goals. Jeff and I took a break under a tree and made it to Mercer in good time. We continued making a couple switchbacks up a hill along the highway and then, at yet another confusing trail junctions we crossed back under the highway and once again began following the Waikato River. We of course ran into the Spies again later in the afternoon and hiked with them for a couple hours. Despite the close proximity of the river, the water was like sludge and we needed to find a better source to filter. With none in sight, we opted to ask a home if we could use their spigot... they weren't home, so we just did . THen we camped hidden by some bamboo and surrounded by cow poop. Still a lovely spot on the river through!