Distances quoted on signs, maps, guides and your own speedometer often differ a great deal. I have had to roughly calculate this distance using the scale on an AA map. Ten or fifteen kilometres past Murchison heading south on highway six you will come to the turn off to Springs Junction along highway 65. Again, there are no stores, although there is a good café at Maruia (not to be confused with Maruia Springs).
Some years ago this used to be a store run by a German couple and their small children. They were an exceptionally friendly family and I was grateful for a cold draught of homebrew they shared with me. I camped under the tree close to the store that evening and was allowed access to a small kitchen and shower in their backpackers. They clearly loved the place but were later deported for an old drugs offence they had failed to disclose when they entered the country from Germany. A sad end to a couple who were devoted to a place they had discovered far from home and who clearly wished to put the past behind them.
Take plenty of water with you. On a hot day you can be using a litre of water every ten kilometres on the steep bits, particularly as you have to pass over the Rahu Saddle. At 700 metres this is a fairly steady climb. There are streams if you have a filter and the odd farmhouse which will likely allow you to fill your water bottles, so no real problems providing you are prepared.
Once you reach Springs Junction (garage and store/tearooms), take a left hand turn and head along state highway 7. Fifteen or so kilometres past Springs Junction you will come to Maruia Springs, an oasis of a place. Maruia Springs has a campground and a pub but more importantly (provided you are staying at the campground), you have free access to the hot pools. The price is a bit steep ($30 for tent site and pool access - as at 2010), but this is a wonderful way to soak off the weary kilometres, and the Japanese style bath house is spacious and relaxing with large windows that look out over the bushy neighbouring hillsides.
This is a marvellous place to forego the camp stove for a night and shout yourself a meal at the pub. The picture of myself shows the effects of a long, hot cycle. I looked better after an ale and a soak in the mineral baths.
If you are lucky, at this point you will start to come across Keas, very common in this area. Keas are colourful, native parrots and have a friendly and mischievous nature. Stories about their unclipping wing mirrors and taking apart tents are mostly exaggerated, but don't underestimate those sharp claws and tough little beaks... The pictures to the left show a couple of Keas taking apart a friend's bike. The German cyclist in question wandered off to take photos and, looking back, wondered why a group of other tourists had gathered around her bike. She soon found out why!