Saturday, September 24, 2011

Following the Waikato River to Huntly

It took two or three big days to work my way through South Auckland and back into the country again. Road walking is just part of life when you want to make progress and even walking down the edge of SH1 is worth it just to get back on the nature trail. I really loved the walks alongside the Waikato River, where the track follows the stop banks. I never realised just how big the Waikato river this really is, like a lazy oneway lake, just slowly moving down to the sea. Great wildlife, waterfowl everywhere and the size of those Koi Karp (fish) feeding in the shallows was amazing. I made a small detour to stay with friends (Chris and Laurie Wilson) in Pukekoe and then on day 34, I arrived in Huntly to stay with Mark and Mary-Ann Pruden. Another day off, a chance to do the washing and best of all, to sleep in a real bed.

The big day south through Devonport and accross Auckland

This was a big day for me as I travelled over 40 km through the big smoke. It was a great feeling to catch the ferry in Devonport and land in downtown Auckland, and for those of you who have been worrying that I have been missing out on events in the rugby world cup, then I thought this photo taken at party central on Queen's Warf, shows that I'm not. The Auckland city section takes in many of the parks and reserves in the city as it crosses the 14 km coast to coast section. I loved this section, especially Cornwall Park and one tree hill. The day ended up at Ambury Regional Farm Park, very close to the airport, where I was able to camp for the night.

The coast from Orewa through Caster Bay to Takapuna

From Puhoi the Te Araroa trail moves out to the coast again passing the lovely little beach settlement of Waiwera and then over the hill to Orewa. Now I have reached the outskirts of Auckland. I start to feel excited about the prospect of moving south and out of northland that has been my home for the last 4 weeks. Orewa has a great little shopping area and a good chance to catch up on my email and blog. I spent two nights at the camping ground and waited out the last of the southerly showers, before moving further down the coast to Takapuna.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Now past the 500 km mark, as I head south of Workworth

Back inland again, as I tramped over the forest covered hills south of Pakiri and down through the farmland valleys to Matakana and Workworth. Now past the 500 km mark, yeah !!!, since leaving Cape Reinga over 3 weeks ago. A great milestone behind me, now only 2,500 km to go. Stopped at a lovely little town of Puhoi, with historic church and pub. So I took a photo of the church and then visited to pub. Well, it was Sat afternoon and I had to go past the church to get to the pub. There is a photo of the inside of the pub, but that's on Facebook. Not a lot of accomodation options, but the local's were great and invited me to camp in the local reserve, if I could find some dry ground. So I set up camp in the day shelter. Nice and dry in there.

More sand and surf, as I head south and back to the beach again

Now day number 24 and the weather is kind to me again, as I head down the long 15 km beach walk to Pakiri. I have got to like beach walking, plenty of peace and quiet, no cars and not a lot to trip over if you don't look where you are going. And it's flat. The bird life is great to watch, as many of the sea birds have started nesting, so I keep well away from the dunes. Don't see another person most of the day, only when I head inland or get to a camping ground. When the sun is out and the walking is flat, then live is easy. If only it was all like this.

Waipu Cove - back on the coast again

Big thunderstrom in Whangarei on Sunday, so I took the day off, did some washing and watched the rugby. Staying in the YHA. But the weather cleared on Monday and I headed back out towards the coast. It was a long road walk from Whanagrei to Waipu Cove (40+ km) and that traffic on SH1 is a shocker, but it was good to be out of the city and back towards the sea and sand again. Like most of the seaside camp grounds, Waipu Cove is empty this time of year and a great place to re-charge the batteries after a long road walk. Back into the hills tomorrow.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Whangarei coastal track

More beautiful sandy beaches and more sunshine. What a life. Or it would be, if I didn't have to carry this heavy pack, climb up and down steep hills (why don't track makers follow the contours like most animals do) and of course sleep on the ground every night. Just kidding, it's really such stunning coastline, that it would be hard not to enjoy such a beautiful walk.
Day 17 saw me leaving the lovely little camp ground at Whananaki North, where the lady was so impressed at my efforts so far on the Te Araroa trail that she gave me a big discount and even washed some of my cloths for me. Maybe she was trying to tell me something. There is a great Te Araroa graphic sign on the beach at Whananaki, showing the Onekainga track that I had come down the day before and it tells me the I ahve already reached 316 km from Cape Reinga. Starting to crank up the km now.
The coastal track follows up and down passed more beautiful coves and bays, Sandy Bay, Woollys Bay, Matapouri Bay and must be one of the great highlights of this walk. Through to Ngunguru for the next section, but no where to camp, so doubled back to Tutukaka and a flash new camping ground, And those lovely hot showers again. The manager at this camping ground was also impressed, he even gave me a beer for my efforts but not my washing. Well, I don't expect you can have it all.

Back to the Coastline

I stayed overnight in a beautiful little camping ground at Oakura Bay and after 3 days in the bush it was really good to get a shower and have the use of a camp kitchen. Oh, how lovely to have access to hot water and multiple cups of tea, without having to light up my little stove. The camp is right on the waters edge, very pretty and I was greeted with yet another crystal clear morning. I can't believe my luck with the weather, one great day after another.
The walk down the coast again passes many sandy bays before turning inland again for another forset tramp along high ridges and deep valleys. Beautiful forset, very lush, more like tropical jungle really. Lots of vines and groves of Nikau palms. This time it is the Morepork (more DOC land) track and once again I camped high on the ridgeline (but this time I remembered to fill up extra water bottles). There has been some concern about the track marking but I had no trouble picking up the right trail.

Russell Forest

It's Day 12 and I'm on the move again. Lovely coastal walk from Paihia around to Opua, where I caught the car ferry to the east coast. Passed lots of small bays, all with clusters of holiday homes, as the Te Araroa trail makes it's way south again. The weather is still beautiful, short sleeves all day and only need to grab my jacket after dark. Camped the first night just inside the Russell Forest, up on the ridgeline. It was really lovely with the setting sun fading through canopy, followed not long later by the rising moon. The local wildlife (many Moreporks) seems to be recoverying, now that DOC is active in predator control, even heard a couple of kiwi calling down in the valley.

I carried on along the ridgeline on the second day but then ran out of water. I'm carrying 2 litres, but by the time you cook an evening meal and then a chuppa for breakfast, there's not much left. So it was about 2 pm in the afternoon when I reached the first main water source for the day, a large clear stream close to a DOC camping shelter. I made this my second night in the forest, sleeping on a platform in the DOC shelter. That was fun, with the possums visiting all night and me waving my walking poles at them to keep them off my food. I think we came to an understanding sometime after midnight and they left me alone.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Now in Paihia and ready for a break

I have arrived in Paihia and I'm ready for a break. My feet and legs are good, no blisters (yet) but after a number of days road walking the soles of my feet are sore. So it's a day off for me, as I hit the highlights of Paihia, which really means a real bed at the Paihia YHA. Weather is still good but not as warm as last week, great in the sun but the wind is cool up on the ridges. Passed through Kerikeri yesterday, by the old stone store, beautiful old building. Will re-supply here as I get ready to move south again.