We left the NZMCA camp this morning next to the Rainbow falls this morning and we headed down the Kerikeri river track to the Stone Store. This was a really fabulous walk, easy going along the river edge and through native forest and of course slightly downhill. We had planned an easier day today to rest the new blistered feet. We stopped at the Honey Pot cafe for morning tea before then heading onward on the Kororipo Pa track where we circumvented the Pa site before finding the DOC track that would lead us down the Kerikeri Inlet road toward tomorrows start point which is the beginning of the Russell Forest. Today has been a real delight, the weather is staying perfect with fine, sometimes overcast skies and we are looking forward to the forest section tomorrow.
On our return to the NZMCA park we met up with Stephen and Uenwha (we had previously referred to them as Mr Chch and Mrs S Korea). We shared contact info as we have been meeting up regularly and plan to keep in touch ongoing. It's great to catch up with those who are becoming friends through sharing this journey. Mike contacted us via email today to say he was suffering blisters and had hitched into Kaitaia to his car to take some time off and let them recover.
The Russell Forest was an undulating easy tramping track through pine forest. Once again I tried my Keen boots as I had two days ago but once again they hurt my feet and so I changed out to my shoes with additional tape, now on both heels, big toes and under the soles. It makes for sore feet all the way. We walked through to Mt Bledisloe where we were able to look out to Russell. We met three maori men there who suggested we visit the Hururu Falls. They said they were a horseshoe shape and there were only two horseshoe shaped falls in the Southern Hemisphere. The other one being the Niagara Falls. I think he was drunk.
Anyway we walked down Te Puke Rd and took the turn toward the falls. The falls were great despite the rain having started but as we checked our map we realised that we had taken the wrong turn from Te Puke Rd and the trail doesn't even go to the falls. We missed Waitangi by taking this wrong route and so walked via the road into Paihia. It was probably a similar distance, maybe slightly longer.
After a pie and milk drink in Paihia we walked around the coastal track toward Opua where we found K and P waiting for us just before the hill climb to Opua so we hitched a ride. By now I was starting to flag it, despite the food I was getting pretty tired so they were a very welcome sight.
We took the ferry to Russell and then drove around to Waikare where we freedom camped beside the landing. This is the start of the next section. Just as we were having dinner a boat arrived to the landing with Silvan, another hiker. Silvan comes from Switzerland and is hiking the trail alone. We shared stories through the evening before collapsing into bed once more.
Before dinner we had packed our big bags for the next stretch which tomorrow will take us up the famous 4 km river walk. Thank goodness I learned to take a toilet stop with the pack on while we were walking 90 mile beach.
Wow, what a day! We left Waikare landing at 8am and walked about 4 kms up the gravel road. There was no traffic in this very remote area. We did see many dead cars along the way and also as we entered the bush area. We met up with Silvan after only about half an hour and we walked with him all day today.
We reached the river just on 10am and changed into sandals to do the wet section. The trail follows the river for 4 kms and every now and then it leaves the river and climbs through the thick wet bush on often very slippery. The trail was very hard to follow with infrequent markers and what trail was there was very overground. The water was cold but crystal clear and usually ankle deep although in places it was over the knees.The river walk took us 2.5 hours and we were pleased to come across a shelter for lunch where we were able to dry our feet out and change back into boots/shoes for a walk out to Papakauri Road, testing our fitness with a big hill climb.
Once on the road there was really nowhere to camp and so we just had to keep on going.
We have completed 20kms of the trail then we walked another 2 kms down to the Whangarei camp ground with tired bodies, especially feet. The first shop we found had us all eating double scoop hokey pokey ice creams. We set up camp, had a rice dinner and ready for bed before dark.
I slept really well and Warren pretty well despite the party music on til late in the camp. There was a big group who had taken part in a fishing contest at the camp and they partied loudly apparently. We rose, had a shower and breakfast said goodbye to Silvan and gradually got organised to walk through to Helena Bay. The morning was fine and warm and the day inviting. We left the camp at 9.30am and walked the hill back almost to the main road when who should appear around the corner but K and P. They were a welcome sight, we had a coffee with them and the rode their bikes the 7 kms to Helena Bay. From there it was a long 11km climb to the top of the hill and the entrance to the Morepork -Onekainga track that goes through to Whananaki so we hitched a ride up in the camper picking up Silvan early on in the hill climb.
Somehow it was decided that we would do this section this afternoon as it was only an 11 km walk. The trail notes said it would take 4-5 hours and we headed off at 1230.
This section has to be the worst we have done and it took me to the limit. The trail was very steep up and down with 3 steep climbs to 218 metres, 174 metres and 227 metres. The views from the last high point was spectacular out over the bay but the effort to get there was huge. The track was very muddy and slippery and with a steep gradient both up and down it made for a tough walk. Barley sugars saved the day this time as the energy out was far more than the energy in over the last few days.
Again we walked the trail with Silvan and it was good once again to have his company. We are learning about Switzerland and he is learning our native flora. As I was flagging Warren was able to phone and asked K and P to meet us at the end of the road and they drove us to the camping ground 2 kms down the road. I booked us in for two nights. We need a rest