Day 28

look at those calves! Worth waiting for eh?

look at those calves! Worth waiting for eh?

Dacre house. Cool campsite

Dacre house. Cool campsite

I'll have all of those please!

I’ll have all of those please!

Dacre House 9.30pm. We are motoring to Auckland! we have camped in the garden of an old farmhouse right next to the beach, not sure if we can but no one will come by now. We’ve walked about 21km today despite late start from Wenderholm. we didn’t leave until after 10am because we are walking along the coastline across the rocks to Orewa which can only be done at low tide. I quite enjoyed the rock hopping was different to everything else so far. had lunch in Orewa plus a “bowl” of coffee. It’s becoming more strange to come into places where lots of people and cars are milling about. you begin to question which is more normal, walking in natural environments or travelling in cars and shopping! `after the hefty lunch (s.roll, sandwich plus slice pizza for me no less) the walking was pretty grim. This is another “road margin” loop but this time included new zealands main state highway, Highway 1. Even when we came off that at `east coast bays road there was still lots of noisy traffic and little margin to walk on. we just had to grin and bear it for 10kms. `i finally got to top of the road where it began to go down towards stillwater about 3kms away and waited for karla, there was a chap parked up and chatting on the phone. Karla was a while as she’d already stopped for a break and when she got to us the man offered us a lift (would he have offered it if Karla hadn’t come up i wonder, he was a nice chap so he probably would), he said the road was even windier down to stillwater and this was the rush hour (5pm) so advised not to risk him, we didn’t need any persuasion to be honest so he took us to the start of the Okura track. This just left an hours walking through some nice bush headlands to this lovely little spot that Karla had seen quite a few times when she’d used the track for running along and always wanted to camp here.

we have 2 options tomorrow, one is to wait for low tide to wade “waist deep” across estuary less than a km from here or to walk further inland across where shallower with an extra 3km walk on roads. Think I’ll sleep on it. Karla is staying/walking with family and friends after tomorrow for a few days so I will be on my own again. I’m thinking of having a couple of half days in Auckland to catch up with blog and try Skype for first time to Marie and Alice, also need to do some planning ahead (kit, food, DOC pass for huts, schedule etc)

(photos to follow including of my calf muscles, i can sense your eager anticipation already!)

Dads shirt in pohutakawa Wenderholm

Dads shirt in pohutakawa Wenderholm

My socks in pohutakawa Wenderholm

My socks in pohutakawa Wenderholm

Easier section of rock hopping

Easier section of rock hopping

IMG_0328

Day 27 what a perfect day

8.20pm Wenderholm Regional Park

Lot to catch up on since my last entry. I’ll try and do it in chrono order. Got to Matakana about 2pm yesterday. Really busy place with all the long weekenders out and about in what “Mata” appears to be a mecca of cafes. ice creams, farmers markets etc. I felt pretty out of place arriving all sweaty with rucksack and poles. I found the recommended Black Dog as recommended and order a Flat white and sat outside to watch the tourist world go by. Then one of the lads who I’d spoken to at Pakiri popped his head out of car window to shout hello. Then a youngish fit bloke got out of a red car and walked over to ask if I was a TE Araroa hiker and want a lift to the trail head, he said he’d just dropped off his girlfriend there and then it clicked that this was James, Karla’s fiance. I asked if he was James and introduced myself as Nick. It was amazing that he didn’t know I was there at the cafe and just saw my pack and decided to stop. Top Man! That quickly made my mind up and I filled up my water bottle and we headed up the road to where he’d dropped Karla off and had a good chat on the way up to Govan wilson Road the start of the Dome track where an earlier prepared 500km marker awaited me. Took a pic of James and I together which would probably freak Karla out, received some choccy bars for emergencies and said a very grateful farewell to James with the offer of a feed from him once got down to Wellington. Karla had text to say she would probably head for dome summit and find somewhere to camp near there, this was 10km away and a daunting 5 hours according to the notes so didn’t think I’d see her today as was already 3.30pm. Spurred on with the prospect of the chase I took up the trail. Thought I’d get as far as I could before 7pm or sooner if leg began its twinge alarm bell. The going wasn’t too bad to start for first hour or so, even had a nice stream to cross but then there was a pretty steep forestry road and it began to rain and thunder. I couldn’t remember whether you are supposed to seek shelter under trees when lighting came or not so good job it didn’t. Reviewed my position and decided to try and get to the impressive stand of 4m girth kauris which were about 1km from summit or failing that stop by 7.30 at latest and find a spot to put up for the night. Was just about to call it a day when hear Karla call me. She had just that minute received a text from James to say he’d dropped me off and there I was looming from the forest gloom.

We had a good catch up over dinner and a brew with dunked gingernuts and I was absolutely zonked, managed to text Marie to say I was ok. Just before I nodded off for one of the best nights sleep I’ve had in ages we heard actual kiwi calling each other, think a female and male as they have different sounds. Fantastic!

Woke sixish and got away just after 7. unbelievably the Kauri stand was less than 50m from where we’d camped. Although not the bigges they were mightily impressive as a big stand together. Unfortunately one had fallen but it provided a good photo opportunity. The dome summit came soon after and Karla found her geocache easily near the trig. It was also looking a pretty nice day with a sunny but cooler feel as we descended to the Dome cafe for a well timed breakfast treat. Despite me walking in with my muddy boots on the were really nice and sorted out some water and made us sandwiches for lunch. I had scrummy bacon and egg on toast. thought about full b’fast but knew it would not feel that good once walking again. We checked maps and timings and figured we could just about make it to Puhoi. so on we went. We stopped for lunch in an old bus shelter and had another brew, it was about 12.30 and I rang the Kayak place in Puhoi to find out about booking and timing for the kayak section to Wenderholm (Karla had done this on Friday so was just going to hitch to wenderholme) They said ideally around 5pm but 6pm would be latest for me today otherwise would need to wait until same time tomorrow. we still had 18km to go and had done 10km by then. I was keen to try so we upped the pace.

Really hard going up tracks to Moir hill as it was now hot as well. but it began to look doable if I hitched the last 4km road section. We came out at junction of Tolholpf and Auhora roads and had to make a decision whether to continue down Auhora road to Puhoi with chance of a ride or to go on to another 2 hour off road track with stll 4km of road at other side. We decided to road it and just as we did so Karla heard a car coming so stuck her thumb abd (and showed her tan lines) and lo and behold a chap in a pick up truck stopped for us. there were 2 dogs in the back so we hauled ourselves in (took me 3 attempts!) and joined them in the back with one them slobbering all over us. To say I felt euphoric is an understatement. It was bliss to be going at speed knowing we’d now make Puhoi in plenty of time and I must have laughed at loud with the joy of the situation we were in. Its turned out that our driver was none other than Ross Tolholpf who family name was the road he’d just picked us up from and his family’s farm forms part of the TA trail. He declined the offer of a beer as we excitedly relished the prospect of a drink at the world famous in NZ Puhoi Pub. Karla introduced me to Radler beer, tastes like shandy but full strength and it was almost a cathartic moment to be sitting in the sunshine with lots of other drinkers with cold beer and time on our hands before needing to get to the canoe place. I could not have been happier!

Puhoi itself has an interesting history going back to 1863 when families from Bohemia (no I didn’t know it was an actual place either, its near Pilsden wherever that is) were offered 40 acres of land here to tame (and children got 20 too). local Maori helped them settle though it must have been really hard work taming the bush (especially if it was dense and steep) and turn it to farmland.

Just had time to stock up with some goodies for tea later (tin of chilli bean, cream cheese, ham slices and treated us to tub of lollies each), Karla bought us some summer ale for later too.

Canoe place was only about 300m down the road and I met Cody the owner and Katherine? who kitted me out for the paddle. Really comfy with a back rest and foot rest so was a most pleasant introduction. After a dry run upstream as suggested I was ready for action and headed off the 7km downstream watery section of the trail. Made a lovely change to walking with a pack. The sun was out and there was a tailwind assisting my passage. I got to the boat lauch area sooner than I thought (90mis as opposed to 2 hours) and Cody and Karla had just arrived in the van. Cody kindly dropped us off at the camp site with the new amenity block and the most Pukekos I’ve ever seen in one place right by the river. Bit basic (no showers or kitchen) so we cooked our feasts by the toilet block to shelter from the breeze which had built up. so that is where I am now and have managed to catch up with the blog just for you my dear reader.

With James at the 500km mark. Top bloke.

With James at the 500km mark. Top bloke.

bit gloomy near the stream on way up to Dome

bit gloomy near the stream on way up to Dome

magnificent specimen (shame about the tree though)

magnificent specimen (shame about the tree though)

view from the Dome lookout

view from the Dome lookout

pimp my ride. At Dome cafe so eager for breakfast didn't take my boots off inside!

pimp my ride. At Dome cafe so eager for breakfast didn’t take my boots off inside!

Karla as happy as I was to get the ride

Karla as happy as I was to get the ride

couldn't be happier, both myself and the slobbery dog.

couldn’t be happier, both myself and the slobbery dog.

A sight for sore eyes and thirsty throats!

A sight for sore eyes and thirsty throats!

Hello there!

Hello there!

not helping much am I?!

not helping much am I?!

I'll never remember all that stuff, I'm a walker!  I said walker cheeky!

I’ll never remember all that stuff, I’m a walker! I said walker cheeky!

bobbing along is so nice

bobbing along is so nice

Trail films

Strange how your mind wanders when walking, came up with following Trail films

Footloose (and very sore as a result)
Castaway (all the crap in the rucksack)
Gladiator (leftover chips she didn’t want)
My Blisters Keeper
The Beach (goes on and on)
From here to eternity
Happy Feet
Schindlers Blister
The Gorse Whisperer
Das Boot

Any other suggestions welcome

Day 26 Pakiri to who knows where

9.45 on Taumahunga track, about 1km from summit

that was all a bit scary. I’ve been walking in cloud and rain with really strong gusts of wind up some pretty steep farmland. Luckily its calmed down now I’m on the leeward side of coast. What a difference a day makes.

Met a guy who is training for Rotorua marathon, we found the path together and I met him again on way down as he said was a bit ropey for him to get to summit but I should be ok!

Luckily I didn’t have any unpleasant dreams last night about swinging ball bags, in fact I dreamt about a kind of shangrila for hikers called Tutakana. had everything a weary tramper could wish for.

I also met Nelson Mandela this morning just as I was heading off. Well he was the spitting image of the late great Mr Mandela. Jhis name was John and he’d moved to NZ from South africa in 2005 and boy could he tell a story. I wish I had met him earleir as I could have listened to him for much longer but I already had my sack on (ruck sack that is). He was a seaman and had visited just about everywhere. He told me about visiting Belfast during the troubles and going from dep[pressing and empty pub to pub, on his way back to ship one of the pubs he visited was blown up by a bomb, he said in london he’d walked in from the docks to Piccadilly circus but couldn’t then find his way out and after 4 hours trying he’d end up back at Piccadilly. In desperation he spoke to a bobby who walked him to end of his beat to meet the next bobby who did the same and then the next one until he got back to his ship.

He had lost his wife (died ..not lost in Piccadilly circus) and had been on his own for a while renting a room in the west of Auckland. He’d recently met a lady but said she was not right in the head and disappeared for weeks on end only to come back and asked him what was for tea. she didn’t remember even whether she had milk or sugar in her tea and varied her choices every time.

1.15pm on road about 2km from Matakana

just stopped for a bit to eat and ease my poor feet, back on road margins so lot harder on them. I think pads of my feet are bruised rather than blistered so giving them a bit of relief.

I met a couple of ladies (sisters) walking up to Taumahunga and got chatting (as I seem to do all the time now). They’d been dropped off by one of the husbands on the ridge and he was driving round to meet them at summit so could go down other side to car. I met husband John near summit and told him they weren’t far behind and he’ll hear them talking away probably before he sees them. When I go to summit and the trig point I got a real surprise to find a letter with my Name Nick Lockwood Te Araroa walker attached to the trig. It was a lovely note from Jane and bob who I’d met at Mangawhai cliff walk saying they’d liked my blog and if I wanted to stay with them near Matakana to give them a ring wow that was really nice. I followed their earlier suggestion of putting dad’s shirt on the trig and john kindly took a photo of me. A big group of hikers turned up then and I chatted to them too. Most were originally from england but now lived in NZ (Piwi’s as one lady called them). They all seemed pretty interested in what I was doing and wished me well. I met John and the sisters again in the car park and got some tips on where the best coffee was in town, offered me a lift but i politely declined (wish I had taken it now as road was pretty poor and really bus

something educational for you

something educational for you

safely down from Taumahunga

safely down from Taumahunga

lovely letter from Jane and Bob

lovely letter from Jane and Bob

Great to collect my post at summit

Great to collect my post at summit

what a difference a day makes, on way up to Taumahunga

what a difference a day makes, on way up to Taumahunga

y).

Karla text to say was camped nearby and maybe catch up later so said I’d ring her when got to Matakana.

Day 25 Mangawhai to Pakiri

Mangawhai town 8.30am

Having second coffee of the day, Just done about 5km and it’s not even 9am but getting hot and its very sunny. good job I bought more sunblock as won’t be much shade of the beach section I’m doing today.

You’ll be pleased to hear I did manage to haul my BIG Boy inflated stomach back to camp last night and had a lie down for an hour. Got up and began chatting to my fellow campers who invited me over for a cup of tea. Rodney and Nicky are the parent of Molly, the 4 and a half year old who was so chatty to me earlier. They live in ruakaka now after getting fed up of Auckland. Nicky works for Fonterra, the giant dairy corporation here in NZ (has most of the Anchor brand among others), she explained about how the dairy industry works where famers become shareholder in fonterra, why dairy products like milk and cheese seem so expensive in NZ (have to pay market price) how chinese corporations are buying up farms and also setting up own processing plants in NZ (one going up near Huntly). Rodney is a high end joiner by trade but has set up as a garden sculptor/art making ornate designs for gardens, he was going to go the the A&P show in the morning at warkworth to show his wares. Lifestyle was far more important to them and working for himself Rodney ensures molly get taken/picked up from school and other activities.

12.45pm Te Arai Point

I can’t seem to help myself going off track at the moment, I only had a beach to follow (sea to left, dunes to right is not difficult!) but then I came across this rockypoint called Te Arai which I have renamed “Te Astray” as I followed it’s picturesque sandy coves and rocky promitaries for half an hours with a couple of lads with a terrier dog going fishing (the lads not the dog, the dog hadn’t got a rod). they didn’t know if could get round either. Well you can’t! which is what founfd out the hard way where came to an impassible rocky bit. I even had three attempts to climb up to the path but all failed so had to do a u turn and come back very hot and bothered. I’ve made the most of it and had a lovely swim in a little cove and having some lunch in the sun, I’ll retrace back to where the path should head up and over the point.

I’ve been watching some guys diving which reminds me of that classic joke

How do you circumcise a whale?
Send down four skin divers!

boom boom

Think I’m cracking up walking on my own in the midday sun

9.30pm – in my Tent Pakiri Beach Camp

Just had an audience of kiwi kids asking me alll sorts of questions about what I’m doing, two really pleasant 11/12 year old girls started talking to me while I was charging phone/tablet in TV room. One was grandaughter of site owners, and her grandad (Poppa) is going to walk the south Island TA this December, he’s 52 and has a fit mate who is doing whole trail only allowing 2 months for the North! Couple of older lads (15/16) talked to me to and we got on to soccer (he supported Man Utd). All really nice kids. One lad had his foot in plaser as had broken tibia and fibia on a flying fox.
After my misadventure arounfd the rocks I found the up and iver route pretty easily and got to the 10km long Pakiri beach with the sun at its peak. A lady and daughter were just coming off the beacjh and told me there’d been a pod of dolphins there for half an hour or so playing around the surfers. Darn it, that would have been great to witness.

I hav enow finally discovered the delights of using the MP3 player that Marie got me for the trip and downloaded some of my favourites ..ABBA and the EAgles, LES Mis. I can’t begin to describe the joyous sensation of walking down a deserted beach in the bright sunshine while listening to Dancing Queen at full blast. Something everyone should do is my advice

I’ve also come up with a Trail Music compilation which includes

Its a long long road
Climb every Mountain
You’ll never walk alone
Les Marseilles (Marchons Marchons)
You’ve got a friend
Country Roads, take me home
I’m on the road to nowhere
I hear laughter in the rain
Almost heaven, west Virginia
I love to go a Wandering
Hurry Home
Fantastic Day.. Haircut 100
albatross – fleetwood Mac
Just a Perfect day
What a wonderful world
Aint no mountain high enough
Road to hell…Chris Rea
Follow the yellow Brick Road
Any song by John Denver!

I’ve had text from Katrin, she is 3 das behind me now in Ruakaka but at least got a coss whangarei harbour without having to pay or wait too long. I text Karla to see what her plans were and she is leaving Matakana tomorrow afternoon so I may catch her yet. Did about 28km today, my leg was pretty good and only started to twinge in last half hour which I actually walked in bare feet for once. Qite pleasant on the sand and fording the Pakiri stream.

Got a shock when camp office said sites were from $80! this is 4 time more than usual due to long weekend and everything getting away, I pleaded my TA walker credentials and she let me have site for $30 as she was empathetic to the fact I couldn’t exactly go anywhere else. I bought 8 sausages with cheese in, 2 eggs, onion and whole loaf of bread. I’ve eaten 5 sausages with noodles for tea. not the nicest I’ve had I must say!

Oh yes before I say goodnight I unfortunately witnessed my first leathery ball bag belonging to an old white bearded gentleman who was playing petanque. Invetibaly the moment I saw him was just as he was bending down to retrieve his petanques

On my god I hope I don’t have any disturbing dreams now!

Goodnight

Early start from Mangawhai  Heads

Early start from Mangawhai
Heads

first Flat White of the day and I'm still at the camp site

first Flat White of the day and I’m still at the camp site

Enjoying an enhanced experience with the MP3 player. Voulez Vous...A ha!

Enjoying an enhanced experience with the MP3 player. Voulez Vous…A ha!

Apparently there are only 40 pairs of the NZ Fairy Tern left and I think this is a fair chunk of then here

Apparently there are only 40 pairs of the NZ Fairy Tern left and I think this is a fair chunk of then here

One for the ladies!

One for the ladies!

Goodbye Northland. It's been a blast!

Goodbye Northland. It’s been a blast!

Hello Auckland region!

Hello Auckland region!

sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy

sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy

Dads shirt finds a home with a view

Dads shirt finds a home with a view

Day 24 “Dense Bush”

Big Boy after the Big Boy, will I make it back to tent?

Big Boy after the Big Boy, will I make it back to tent?

Mangawhai Cliff Walkway. So nice!

Mangawhai Cliff Walkway. So nice!

What a stunner! view behind is nice too!

What a stunner! view behind is nice too!

Even proper path pretty steep eh?

Even proper path pretty steep eh?

did I mention this dense and steep bush?

did I mention this dense and steep bush?

Brynderwyn trig with blue shirt suitably placed

Brynderwyn trig with blue shirt suitably placed

12.40pm Brynderwyn walkway

Jeez!! that last hour or so was so frustrating. All was going well, got to trig point after about 2 hours, could see Mangawhai Heads all the way down to the coast and thinking “pah…5-6 hours!, I’ll have this cracked in 4!”
The trail notes do warn you

“Caution: the walkway passes through several junctions with no signage. a map and compass are essential as it is easy to take the wrong turning”

Well, that ok thought i cos I’ve got my GPS loaded with the TA trail and I can pinpoint myself against to the nearest metre!

It got very confusing. There were signs at the top, Brynderwyn walkway, both west and east, even the TA was marked and arrowed …but in opposite direction to my GPS trail map. so I choose the path which was kinda going in direction of the GPS version but after 100m had veered off so I went back to the trig to start again. The nearest route seemed to be going back down the trail I’d walked up to where another path was running parallel, Ah Ha I thought that must be it so precariously over the barbed wire fence I went with my GPS on and fully focussed. This new path kinda went in the same direction but never got to the TA mapped route. It appeared to be a new road for lots of sub-divisions as there were heaps of LOT numbers signed. The road then opened up into a broad grassy area with some awesome views but then came to an abrupt halt with just gorse and dense bush, and i mean dense bush all around. According to the GPS map the TA was only 27m away down through this aforementioned dense bush, and I mean dense bush, and did I mention it was steep, and I mean steep dense bush. So what should I do? backtrack to summit again only to have same dilemma or forge into this dense (and don’t forget steep) bush? Yeo, hats what I did, I plunged in and was immediately lacerated by the first line of defense, live upright gorse bushes which resisted my intrusion until all its prickles had hit their mark,then the dead gorse took over and lossened its till prickly prickly into my boots and socks. then came the ferns whos tendrils and fronds blocked my passage at every turn and whenever i tried to use them to support myself for dear life promptly gave way. the ferns were rearguarded by spindly scrub at the junctions where the aforementioned fern tendrils and fronds were at their thinnest so that I had to reconsider and forge directly through the fern plants. After battling for 10 minutes to achieve the 27m which should have released me onto the path, albeit somewhat worse for wear, it did no such thing and I bisected what I am convinced is now only a virtual trail on the internet! “this is a little disappointing” thought i as I faced the prospect of having to now re-enter the dense (and steep) bush this time going upslope. going back in was harder still and I somehow kept getting deflected to the left so that instead of only enduring the aforementioned 27metres I missed the grassy opening and continued to blunder through the bush for at least double the distance and re-emerge (once the dead and live gorse had had their second crack at me).

Somehow I backtracked and felt my way including through private property, barbed wire, locked gates (but luckily no dogs) and ended up on a track where I met a nice chap walking by himself. he had walked up from Mangawhai and reassured me I was n the right trail. We met again when I was having a well deserved lunch to calm my nerves and we compared maps. He had the v26 of the TA to my V32 and his showed the TA route as exactly the same as the Brynderwyn Walkway whereas V32 has a very different route (one that I’m convinced doesn’t exist!). I thought to email Rob at the TA to check and even donate money for better signage at the Trig to reassure future walkers. The nice chap does a lot of the TA routes in sections between Whangarei and the Waikato.

5pm Mangawhai Heads Camp

Just arrived, there’s a bit of a queue at the office so i’m sitting in the shade recovering. Ny right thigh is playing up again, came on about an hour ago so bit of a worry, will see how feels in morning.

Rest of the days walking was tough, but didn’t lose my way again (only reminder was picking out gorse prickles from some of my extremities).

There is an absolutely gorgeous cliff line walk into Mangawhai heads with awesome views out to the ocean and the islands, I was resting my leg there when met Jane and Bob who were going for a swim down to the beach. We chatted for a while about the trail and why I was doing it. Jane suggested I put dads shirt on Taumahunga summit Trig which is down the line a bit and they would look out for it. I gave them my name and blog so if you are reading this Jane and Bob Hi, thanks for stopping and hope I find the right spot. Bob said the cliff walk here at Mangawhai was a developer mitigation contribution for the pretty snazzier new houses nearby. Good idea!

I’ve had a swim in the estuary just the right temperature followed by a warm shower. the little kiwi girl in tent next to me kept coming over for a chat which was entertaining.

I’ve just walked the km or so into town where there are quite a few eating options but I just had to have “The Big Boy” burger and chips (plus family pot of ketchup and Aoili) at the takeaway,. Imagine a big Mac on steroids, must be about 4 times as big and I could get my mouth round its gargantuan girth. My leg has eased off and checking my route for tomorrow to Pakiri Beach camp, its longer at 27km but mostly flattish (famous last words) The following day does look harder with some summits. If I can move with this BIG Boy inside me back to camp I will sleep like a log

Happy 13th Birthday Alice

24th Jan

I rang home this morning to speak to Alice who is 13 but is still (and always will be) my little girl. It’s the first time I’ve not been there to share her birthday with her so I written this for her (I can see her cringing now!)
al
Happy birthday my little girl

I love your good humour and your sense of fun, your kindness to others and the good looks inherited from your mum (obviously). I hope i don’t make you cringe too much and you will come to like my “crocs with socks” and maybe, just maybe you’ll even think that your dad rocks.

As I sit here so far away
With the wind upon my Brow
I wish I could be with you
To give you a daddy kiss right now

Te Araroa Trail song

24th Jan – I went to bed so early last night that I woke up before light enough to pack up so decided to write a song for the TA trail. Very early draft you understand, comments and suggestions most welcome

Tune is to the “this land is your land this land is my land”

(Verse 1 and chorus)

This trail is your trail, this trail is my trail
From Cape Reinga to to the bluff in Southland
This trail is made for you and me

Through Kauri forest, across beach and farmland
Through townships and cities too
This trail is waiting here for you

(Chorus)

Up peaks and down valleys, In clear streams and rivers
through muddy mangrove and swampy scrub
Natures finest is here for you to see

(Chorus)

In bright sunshine, in rainy downpour
in shady glades and on windy ridge
All seasons in just one day

Chorus

You’ll meet great people, you’ll make new friends
Grow as a person, and get fitter too
This trail is something you must do!

(all together now)

This trail is your trail, this trail is my trail
From Cape Reinga to to the bluff in Southland
This trail is made for you and me

Day 23 Ruakaka to Waipu

3pm Waipu Cove

Waipu? I think the answer is quite obvious, it’s an essential digestive function to excrete solid waste products from the body. Just wanted to clear that one up.

I’ve only made it to Waipu Cove, after having aspirations of getting closer to Mangawhai. I was doing pretty well until I got to the Waipu “River Walk”…. Walk! It was more like a mud bath/tree climb/through hedge backwards scramble! I nearly lost my crocs when sank up to my knees in the mangrove mud. I did attempt it at high tide so maybe this section would be easier at lower tide although it would still be muddy muddy.

This took me about 2 hours to just cover 3km so was slow going. I nearly lost my first aid kit, it fell out when I was having a fight with a giant flax bush whilst trying not to electrocuted by the electric fence millimetres away at the same time. Luckily I stopped soon after to get a plaster for a new second generation blister so I realised and backtracked to find it.

It was definitely “crocs with socks” time. I ended up coming up from the river ordeal through some chaps garden, I waved and said Hi as I did so, he waved back without too much alarm so maybe he’s used to seeing dishevelled TA walkers emerge at his place?!

Murray had again come to my rescue and dropped me off at a rainy Ruakaka surf Club car park, this missed I’ve nipped a bit off the Marsden Point section (but don’t worry I’ll make it up. In fact I have found out that the North Island walk is actually 1’695km and not 1’600km so I’m still in credit!)

The weather was pretty overcast but this is good for walking!

I was pretty choked saying goodbye to Mike Sonia, Maxine and Murray this morning. It dawned on me I may not see them all together again if/when they do end up moving. They have been like a second family to me and now I’m back on m own again and missing both my homes. It’s Alice’s 13th Birthday today as well and first time I’ve not been home to share it. boo hoo

I’ll be ringing Alice tomorrow morning when its her evening…I know it is pretty confusing). I’ve got a signal here in Waipu Cove which is another reason I’m staying put.

It feels I’m now on a new chapter of my journey which will take me to Auckland in around 10 days time. The section after will be to Tongariro and meeting up with Chris.

Chris has emailed me his kit list and I’ve sent my comments back now I am a “seasoned tramper” (the owner of the campsite I’m staying in tonight put me down as “Nick Lockwood….Walker” which I liked) with advice such as “underpants, do you really really need them?”

The earlier part of the “real walk” (as opposed to mud bath river bit) was quite mixed, all pretty flat starting with an hour down the beach, I then saw a TA sign pointed off the beach and began to think it wise to follow it as it wasn’t clear how to negotiate the Waipu River mouth especially when the tide would be fairly high so inland I went. The other reason I came off the beach was because of the disappointment of getting to the naturist beach called Uretiti (pronounced “your a titty” i kid you not) and there wasn’t even a German ball bag in sight never mind a pleasant titty or preferably two.

Stopped for a flat white in Waipu town and bought a “hangover” pie out of curiosity. disappointingly, although tasty enough, it didn’t appear to be much more than steak.

I’m sure dear reader you will want a full update on yesterday’s slog up Bream Head. It was a long day as you will have gathered and if anything there were even more steps coming down the other side. Imagine if you can a set of stairs, like the ones at home just going up and up (or down and down) for almost 2 kilometres and you will have a good idea of what this was like (nb these steps were not carpeted like the ones you may be imagining).

I finally took my final step on a step at about 5pm and came out at urquarts bay. and at this juncture can I just say another big thank you to all those involved in the creative concept that is the Urquarts Bay toilets, “toilets” do not do them justice, a “haven of ablutions” would be a better phrase. They were simply lovely, very spacious, fully tiled in a neutral but strikingly elegant mocha of showhome quality, well supplied with two ply paper, soap dispenser actually have soap in it and it worked. I spent a blissful 15 minutes disrobing and carrying out as many functions as I could think of to make the most of this most wonderous amenity. Outside there was even a multi-functional water station with two heights of dispensers (one low enough for dogs to use?) and a tap for filling the water bottles of thirsty hikers to boot. I was on my fifth litre of the day by this time which I think is a record for me. To cap it all, quite literally, there was a “growing roof” on this magnificent edifice. Once more …Well done Urquarts Bay!

Suitably abluted and quenched I walked to the main Whangarei Heads road, saw a car and tentatively stuck my thumb out and lo and behold it stopped (well the people inside made it stop). These were a youngish couple Kristen who was driving was from South Africa but had lived in NZ for 9 or so years, the bloke whos name I can’t recall was a kiwi gave me a biscuit and we chatted on the way back to whagarei. they were up from Auckland visiting family and had walked Mount Manaia today and heading back to whangarei to have a meal at his brothers. His parents were dairy farmers who were now in Aussie. He mentioned a place to stay on the Whangnui river section (st Josephs near Jerusalem..yes there is a place called Jerusalem on the river. They dropped me off at Kensington which was ideal as I could get some beers and supples at the supermarket. I nearly lost my day sack as I’d left it in their back seat but remembered just in time to bang on the window just as they were pulling out…Phew!

Had a lovely cold beer in the car park while mike came down to pick me up. A refreshing shower at Max and Murrays was followed by a meal at Mike and Sonia’s (up more steps!) where I devoured three pork schnizels with consummate ease. Felt a bit tipsy after 5 or so beers which went straight to my legs. Had a good chat with Mike and Sonia before heading for bed, just about managed to keep my eyes open to watch last few overs of the NZ vs India cricket test (NZ won despite it rained off with 3 balls to bowl) and was then probably fast asleep within minutes.

So that brings you just about up to date, think I’ll head into Waipu cove “town centre” where there is a dairy and a cafe apparently, one km exactly down the dunes.

5pm Waipu Cove at the “two fish Bar/cafe”

This is nice. A new bar/cafe has opened and i’m enjoying a glass of Monteiths Golden ale while contemplating my culinary options available. These are to dine on my dried pasta dishes, have fish and chips from the diary/takeaway or select from the very appetising fare here at the bar/cafe. Look a bit pricey (pizza $25) but other options look tasty (Te Ika Mata – lime cured fish with avocado, coconut cream, spring onion and crisp. Wagu Burger with bacon, cheddar, bread and butter pickle (?), and agria crisps…mmmmm decisions decisions

Talking of decisions I need to work out my route tomorrow and the next few days and whether to catch up with Karla who will be moving on from Matakana on Sunday

A little while ago whilst I was having a cup of coffee outside the dairy some mums with small children came and sat on the bench to have their ice creams and a cute little girl stubbed her toe and it bled, she was really upset but I came to the rescue with my strapping tape and once covered up she soon stopped crying (what is it about kids and plasters!?). I then created an image of myself being the “Guardian Angel” who travels from town to town doing good deeds (There was a series on this concept ages ago starring that chap from Little House on the Prairie Michael Langdon?/).Well I can dream can’t I.

What a lovely welcome!

What a lovely welcome!

always time for coffee, very comfy seats too.

always time for coffee, very comfy seats too.

walk or obstacle course?

walk or obstacle course?

Celebrating the 400km milestone at Waipu Cove

Celebrating the 400km milestone at Waipu Cove

Not a titty in sight at Uretiti naturist beach.

Not a titty in sight at Uretiti naturist beach.

blog writing pose!

blog writing pose!

cool "ferry" across the river (puddle).

cool “ferry” across the river (puddle).

my dinner companion.

my dinner companion.


No chips as my body is my temple.

No chips as my body is my temple.

At "two fish bar cafe". Looks like it ate the second one!

At “two fish bar cafe”. Looks like it ate the second one!


there are heaps of camp sites in the cove, i may have got the more expensive and regimented one of the lot ($25 and instructions everywhere, but the chap Paul seems nice enough), it is also nearest to start of tomorrows track, and it has also got a super cool ferrying device where you pull ropes on pulleys to get across the small river and on to the dunes.

I needed to buy more sunblock as mine seems to have disappeared during my fight with the Waipu River walk obstacles but they only had big bottles at dairy at $20 and I decided to take my chances tomorrow and restock at Managawhai where there are more shops (3 at least)

7pm waipu cove camp site

Ahhh…this is the life, as you probably guessed I plumbed for the cafe/bar and enjoyed a delish fish burger and also coated Calamari (but with no chips as I must watch my figure). I’m having a cup of coffee and waiting for the sun to go down. Feeling a tad lazy with only 5 hours walking today. Tomorrow will be tougher as going inland and up over 200 metres height before coming back to Managawhai, looks about 24km and around 8 hours, warns about needing map and compass skills, I just hope my GPS bails me out again as I’m not that confident with compass.