Walking southward from Tane Moana's sanctuary, recently de-forested areas allow fine views of the ground still to cover.
From the next town of Ngunguru, I walked a long hot road until a kindly couple stopped to give me a lift. I didn't recognise them at first but they knew me. We'd enjoyed a short chat the day before in Whananaki at the far end of the footbridge. They told me they don't normally stop for hitch-hikers but when they recognised my big blue rucksack (and grey hair!), they decided to break the rule. Thank you, George and Rodney!
This was a blazing hot day with the temperature in the 90s. Apparently, Australia has sent a heat wave to New Zealand. I slept for an hour in the shade of a tree and bathed afterwards in a clear cool stream. Refreshed, I enjoyed the next stage and walked quietly in the cicada-clicking afternoon heat.
I suppose my inner stillness fooled a weasel that glided down the trail towards me. I stopped as soon as I saw it. As it came closer, I saw it had a bird's head clutched in its mouth. It more or less skidded to a halt a few inches or so from my shoe.
It was a Mexican stand off. It eye-balled the shoe, looked left, right and upward into my face. Neither of us moved a muscle. I fancied it thought the weasel equivalent of "What the crap is this?!" The same thought had flashed through my mind.
Comprehension dawned with comical slowness. The weasel bowed and released the bird's head, which rolled against my shoe.
Having made obeisance, like a dark current against the sandy path, it flickered into the grasses at the border.
I drew breath again.
Apparently, I'm a weasel god.
The thought made me smile.
There's always a new way of looking at things when you're on the trail.