I didn't post anything yesterday. We were taking a break after having completed the Morepork trail into Whananaki. We enjoyed a long sleep, hot shower and a stroll along the estuary walk back to the point where K and P had picked us up the previous day. K and P called around in the afternoon for happy hour and to collect the packs we would not need for today. We ate lots yesterday too. We bought bread, eggs, fish, baked beans etc from the little store next to the camp despite it being pretty expensive. It was really good to have a rest day, wash a few clothes and plan our next few days walk.
Today we left the camp at 7.30am, crossed the walk bridge between Whananaki North and South. The sun had just come up and the tide was almost full, there was no wind and no one about. It was a beautiful morning. The walk followed the Whananaki Coastal walkway trail which took us parallel to the coast through farmland and a very clear and well maintained track. In some parts it was mower grass and other parts metal road. We met Liz at the junction to the Bougainville walk and walked with her until we got to Matapouri where we bought a hot pie and flavoured milk for lunch, yum.
This afternoon we are kicking back thinking that 15 kms is enough for today. We are parked up beside the beach enjoying the sun. The next stage is the Matapouri bush walk which we will prefer to start in the morning.
We were up early enough to see the beautiful sunrise this morning. Looks like another lovely day. We had breakfast with K and P, packed up the tent and headed off to start the Matapouri bush walk. The walk took us through farmland, pine forest and plenty of native bush with some steep descents and climbs. The single trail area were still muddy but not as wet as the Morepork trail so there was no sliding. We took our time stopping for rests and photo opportunities with our lunch stop being at Tane Moana, a giant kauri just off the forestry access road and protected from kauri dieback by a board walk surround. It is a big tree but surprisingly not too far up to the first branches.
Leaving our lunch spot we were surprised to see a couple of baby wild pigs on the track. They were still pretty young so mum must have been around somewhere close. Once before while mountain biking at Rainbow Mountain we also came across two small wild pigs. Those ones had their mum there and they were black whereas today's piglets were a mix of black and grey. Maybe a bit of interbreeding with a domestic pig. It wasn't far past there that we entered farm land and then followed the metal road down to Ngungaruru where there was an ice cream waiting for us. K and P picked us up in Ngungaruru and drove us out to Hilton and Melvas where we parked up for the evening. We need to repackage for the next few days stretch down to Whangarei harbour.
I'm sitting in a deck chair looking out over the Pataua estuary having been fed freshly smoked kahawai caught this afternoon and just enjoyed a beautiful hot shower. From this seat I can see people collecting shelf fish and locals riding their horses along the beach. Who would have guessed the day would end like this?
K and P dropped us off this morning at the start of the forest track which was 13 kms out of Ngungaruru. The track had two river crossings, both times we changed our boots for sandals and it took us 2 hours to complete the track through to the road section which goes all the way to Pataua. This section was tough on the feet. We were walking on a tarsealed 100km road with no shoulder to speak of and despite being told last evening that the locals would give us a ride, there was little traffic and no ride.
We were walking onto the approach to the Pataua walk bridge when a guy rode up on his bike and asked if we were doing the trail. When we said yes, he offered us fresh hot smoked fish and a place to stay for the night complete with the aforementioned hot shower. This guy is Stephen and he's the ultimate trail angel. He watch out for walkers and then offers snacks to eat, or a meal, shower, or place to pitch the tent. All he asks in return is that you hand the favour on. Stephen and his wife Connie are just house sitting here from Auckland and happy to support trail walkers. We slept in the garage laying our sleepy mats on the concrete floor.
The tide determined our start time today a we needed to get across the Taiharuru estuary we got there in time to catch a few photos of a pretty sunrise. The estuary was hard going with a deep sticky muddy surface which tended to suck your feet in. We wore sandals and the cockle shells worked their way into the sandals too. We had no trouble crossing the channel with the water only knee deep at best for short people. Once on the other side we cooked up a cup of tea and some porridge. We added sweetened condensed milk to the porridge, yum.
Our walk then took us straight up to the trig at the top of Kauri Mountain which rises to a height of 245 metres. It was a good solid haul up there. Just as we hit the top a solid shower of rain came through for a little while as we descended through the bush. We followed the road down to the northern end of Ocean beach where we paused for an hour and a half waiting for the tide to drop so we could get across the small estuary there. Just over the estuary we came across a huge flock Bar-tailed godwits and managed to get heaps of photos as we expected them to fly away but they didn't, they just moved away on mass from us, like sheep.
The beach walk was great and we walked it in sandals. We could see the end of the beach and it only took us 2 hours to get to the southern end and to the car park where K and P were parked. The sun shone, there was a bit of wind but still pretty pleasant. Today we've done 18 kms.
Today we spent a solid 6 hours climbing Mt Manaia and Mt Lion leaving from the southern end of Ocean beach and finishing at Urquarts Bay where once again K and P were waiting for us and again a very welcome sight for us. I had underestimated the walk today, thinking we were climbing the mountain and then descending. Not an unreasonable assumption if you don't read the map and notes carefully. We climbed Mt Manaia first and it was a good stiff climb for us, then the trail followed the ridge along to Mt Lion, which although the other local trampers notes suggested this was an undulating walk, it felt more up than down. Maybe it's the horror of looking forward and seeing another climb ahead when you feel like you've already run out of steam. We stopped for a half hour lunch break at the top and added jelly beans along the way as the energy levels flagged. I found it really hard and we were only carrying day packs. I feel for those TA trampers who have to haul their full pack up there!
Once saved by K and P we were transported to Anne and Rogers for a shower, hot meal, computer time and the chance to feel normal again. Time for a day off.