So much for that last comment about it being sole destroying walking into the weather, we had a 12 km walk into Ahipara today with pretty wild weather consisting of very strong winds coming round to being on the nose by the time we arrived at the beach end and horizontal driving rain showers. These two days have been a real test for our rain gear which has performed beautifully. We had replaced our gortex coats with Kathmandu ngx3 coats which are much lighter and we hoped they would cut the mustard.
We had a good nights sleep in the cabin through a boisterous night, before heading out into the weather.
We left at 9am hoping to make Ahipara before the tide was too high and although the high tide wasn't until 1.30pm we only just made it. What a relief to get to the other end and have achieved the first leg of this journey.
The beach has shown us both its best and worst moods. The vast amounts of foam on the beach was impressive and we know how much wind it takes at sea to create all this cappuccino froth. We've seen the water a beautiful blue and an angry grey and the sky colours to match. Would it have been too easy to have tail winds and sun all the way? There was no problem with water supplies as all the streams were running well from the recent rains and we had plenty of food with our daily rations being more than we appear to need at the moment. Its been early to bed at night and awake at sun up - what do they say? Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Maybe a few more early nights are needed.
We've just had our first night in the camper with Peter and Kath and we're appreciating having their support more and more. What a luxury to arrive in Ahipara yesterday to find them there waiting for us. We were whisked off to Kaitaia where we had lunch and then a restful afternoon in the camper followed by curried sausage dinner. Today is a rest day, or zero day (no distance covered) as through hikers like us call it. Is it too soon to call ourselves through hikers? We've loaded day packs and boots for tomorrow's walk which will be through the Herekino Forest. Second leg about to begin.
We left later than planned this morning as Warren woke and indicated that he thought he needed another day off to manage his blister pain. After breakfast and a bit of a round table discussion we decided to set out and bike the first section of the next leg. We left from Ahipara and rode out to the mark where the walk enters the Herekino Forest. There we met a couple of young Germans who had hitched up the hill and were about to enter the trail. They had also had a day off yesterday after arriving in to Ahipara on Friday afternoon.
Having completed this first section we decided to ride around the forest and carried on with K and P driving just ahead of us all the way. We managed a good days ride calling it off mid afternoon when the bodies got tired and the gravel road hills got a bit too hard to ride. So we rode 28kms and walked an additional 3 kms up a long uphill gravel road section. Peter put the bikes back on the van for this part to make the walking easier.
Given that we were initially going to take the day off we have made good progress, had a good workout, and were happy with the decision to circumvent the forest walk which is reported as being in poor condition with lots of mud. Chances are we may do the same with these three forest sections between Ahipara and Kerikeri.
Today we walked an 8km section of the trail through recently felled pine forest and via a metal road down to Takahue where we met up again with K and P for morning tea. We then jumped on the bikes and rode out to SH1 stopping for the day at a freedom camping site beside the stream just before Managamuka. Its been a lovely day, both of us still have blisters and the biking is a pleasant relief for these. We've decided that with the forests being marginal due to excess mud and our sore feet that we would ride around these forests. That means that we get to do additional kms but easier.
Today our total kms were 29 and yesterday 31. The highlight of today's bike ride was the descent from the top of the hill where SH1 goes over the Maungataniwha Range. We had about 5 kms of windy downhill which put huge smiles on our faces despite chilling us down with a cool breeze.
33 kms of road riding today on SH1 all hills so a slow slog up at 8kms an hour in granny gear then a roaring 40-50km down hill. K and P kept just ahead of us providing directions, food and drinks and encouragement. Thank goodness for a support team! Along the way we met Mr Chch and Mrs S Korea, ( we named them that as we don't know their names yet) and we were thrilled to see them so we had a catchup on the road edge. They were making their way through the forests on foot and told of the deep and relentless mud along the way. They too are hoping to make Kerikeri tomorrow.
We called in to Puketi Forest DOC camp this afternoon and spent a bit of time rearranging our contents in the van which have taken up so much room including all the front passenger seat meaning that K has to sit in the back. Hopefully that's sorted now. I think we brought far too much hiking food although I am sure it will get eaten.
Leaving Puketi Forest DOC camp we walked initially on a quiet gravel road before entering farm land. As a result of the recent rain, the farms here are still quite wet with lots of plugging from the animals. We have travelled quite a bit on roads today as well as climbing through farm land to a spectacular view of the Bay of Islands. We stopped for lunch at the top of the hill and had a bite of lunch and aired the feet for half an hour. The walk down to Kerikeri got longer as the feet got new blisters (me) and the body felt tired. Just did 21 kms today but it felt like more.