We started the day with a hot shower and breakfast and plenty of chatter while Peter gave the motor home a wash. Whangarei doesn't have the cable Peter needs to connect his new tablet to the drone, nor does it have a spare battery for our GoPro but we did manage subway for lunch while K and P had sushi.
This afternoon we have moved around to Marsden Point as the start Point for tomorrow. Lovely day off.
This morning was quiet and still with no wind and very high cloud and it was low tide. A good day for walking the beach. We left Marsden Point at 8am and by 9.30am had reached Ruakaka where we had a cup of tea with P and K and then biked to Cullen Road via a quick lunch in Waipu. We hitched a ride for 5 kms up Cullen Road as its a steady uphill climb, firstly on a sealed road then onto a metal forestry road toward the start of the Brenderwyn track. The track crosses a high point on the Brenderwyn's and we were able to get some really impressive views back north to Whangarei Heads, south down the coast past Mangawai and west to the rural countryside of northern Kaiwaka and Brenderwyn.
We managed to complete the track by 3.30pm and so have chalked up a respectable 15km walk (Bream bay beach and Brenderwyn trail) today and a 22km bike ride. Our km tally to date is 478, we will have to try to hit the 500km mark tomorrow as we complete the Northland section of the Te Araroa trail. We are achieving the goal of a 20km per day average. So far so good!
It was an early start today so that we could complete the Breamhead/Managwhai walkway and then have time to walk the Pakiri beach before high tide this afternoon. We left K and P at 6.40am and spent a good 2 hours tramping largely through a steep sheep farm before exiting for breakfast with them at the northern end of Pakiri in the rain.
It had started raining lightly overnight then settled in for the day. Today I saw a good sized lamb, probably half as big as its Mum, run straight through and 8 wire fully battened fence. We got driven from there to Te Arai point as our previous plans to bike that bit went by the way with a sense of tired bodies and wet weather.
Getting us to Te Arai Point was really helpful and allowed us to complete the beach walk a couple of hours before high tide. It was still pushing us slowly up the beach into soft sand and harder walking. There were not many birds on the beach, we saw a couple of dead penguins and lots of jellyfish which had been washed up. We had a small stream to cross half way down the beach which required boots and socks off then it was boots off again to cross the Pakiri river at the end of the beach which was almost as high as my legs go.
We parked up to prepare for the next few days to get us to Puhoi but not before celebrating our 500km achievement and the end of the Northern section with wine and chips with our superior support team.
Last night we were parked up on the roadside near the start of today's track up Mt Tamahunga. The track was 11 kms and when the notes say steep and slippery they mean it. The track in many places was really muddy, thank goodness for good boots although mine on one occasion were not quite high enough and a small trickle of water spilled in. It rained on and off and before each shower was a chilling wind so we walked almost all day with full wet weather gear on.
We were both impressed with our progress through this tramp and when we met up with K and P on the roadside to exchange our light packs for our not so light ones we were both happy to keep going and so we started the Govan Wilson to Puhoi valley track, eventually stopping in the bush just after 5pm. We went as far as we did because the track and gradient were both pretty good and we figured once we stopped we wouldn't want to get going again. Both of us finished today feeling tired but satisfied with a good days work/walk.
We managed half of the noodle dinner with a cup of soup and then by 6.30pm we were starting to hunker down as the rain started up again and it became quite cold.
We slept pretty well last night in the bush and after a cup of tea and porridge (again with sweetened condensed milk added) we headed off once agin into wet muddy slippery steep country. We both felt pretty tired and our pace was slower than yesterday. We frequently found ourselves looking up or down a very slippery slope and its no wonder some folk do ankle and knee injuries in this terrain. We gradually moved into dryer country and found some of the track went along a forestry road. Even though it was all uphill we were thankful that when you put your foot to the ground it didn't slip or slide from there.
From there we found ourselves climbing up to the Dome summit and lookout. By now we were making slow but steady progress and it was a relief to pop out at the Dome valley cafe mid afternoon. We ordered food and drinks and the old bloke there told us that a young French couple had arrived just after 5pm the day before. They must have been speeding because they only left about half an hour before us yesterday morning and they had done in a day what took us almost two!
We had our 'dinner' and then as we were leaving the cafe a couple in a campervan called out and asked us if we were doing the Te Araroa trail. They were friends of Hilton and Melva in Ngungaruru and she had done the trail the first year it opened. They offered us a cup of tea but with full bellies from the cafe, we moved on. They are not the first,we have had a good number of people ask us if we are doing the trail as we walk by. People who live along the trail certainly seem to know about it.
The old guy at the cafe advised us of a camping spot up the road and so we have taken the opportunity to stop here tonight. It's just a flat section of mown lawn with a 'camp' sign on the power pole at the entrance to someone's property. Nice that they keep it mown and let TA hikers stop here.
It was early to bed last night and we fell asleep to the sounds of gun fire as the locals here were apparently out possum hunting. With an early night we were awake early and on 'the road' by 7am.
We have spent a lot of the day walking public and forestry roads as well as some farm land and bush track. We left camp with little water and so we had to refill bottles at a roadside drain. The water was flowing well and we sterilised it so we should be ok. Today's walk took us 9 hours and with a hot day we had that water finished and so next refilled in a small stream about an hour out of Puhoi.
Yesterday the wild life we came across was stoats. We had two run across the forestry track in front of us. Today we came across two very young goats as we climbed Moir Hill. Another of today's highlights was seeing, way in the distance the Auckland sky tower and Rangitoto Island and we could also see the sea on both the west and east coasts. These are the benefits of climbing so high. There have to be some rewards. Seeing the sky tower makes us realise how far we have come.We have taken less photos in the last few days as the scenery is so similar and the vast views just don't look the same in a photo as they are so far away.
Puhoi was a welcome sight at 4pm and we enjoyed a shower in the motor home before heading across the road to the Puhoi pub for dinner. This evening we're organising to sort out the Auckland section and we are thinking we will miss Auckland out and take a few days off to give the body a break before heading into the Hunua's and then on to the Waikato.
Today is a rest day and K and P took us to Silverdale where we waited for Claire to collect us at 3pm and take us to her place. We managed to get washing done and boots cleaned, the tent dried and bodies showered. Craig and the boys arrived to see us and then we had a lovely dinner before an early night. We're still both really tired.
We slept late. Tony had just come back from a motorbike trip to the South Island yesterday afternoon so he was tired too and we all enjoyed Claire's cooking and baking and slept some more