Here is where I make a big confession. Purely as as medical precaution measure I have skipped the Ratea Forest (which is renowned to be the toughest forest with highest and muddiest trails of all) as felt it would be too much for my recovering foot. Peter kindly dropped us off on the highway to hitch to Mangamuka and amazingly within 5 minutes ( the 3rd car) we got a lift! It was a kiwi bloke from Auckland who was travelling in convoy with his family (wife and 3 sons) in a 4WD ahead of us. He had a van chokka with all their gear. They had a walkie talkie to communicate with each other ( “hey darling I’m just pulling over to pick up these pommie wa^&*ers”). They’d been staying in the Ahipara campsite for 3 weeks but had been spending their days to west of 90 mile beach where he said the shore was fantastic for kayaking, fishing etc.
I was hugged and kissed by the dairy shop owner when i walked in! I was just behind a family who were getting introduced to her and she thought I was with them! I didn’t mind and said it was a fantastic way to greet customers! We chatted and turned out Karla had been through about 2 days before and mentioned my foot so my foot is now famous in the Far North! Let her know that Katrin will probably be coming through later today (Katrin had braved the dreaded Raetea and we salute her!).
We had a coffee and indulged in an awesome bacon and egg pie (why can’t english pies be as good as they are over here, these are crammed with layers of bacon, eggs and cheese and no air filled floppy bits). So my first walking for 4 days began in high spirits!
First section was along gravel road where we were joined by a teeny terrier who smelt like a cow had shat and peed on it but was so cute I had to stroke it (see photo where she is a little speck in the distance as we shooed her off). Not long after we came across a bigger dog who looked a bit lost/sheepish. Turned out a couple of hunters had lost three dogs and this was one of them. We “found” the other 2 here at the camp. they are settled up in the bushes looking a bit worried and wary. We’d met the hunters twice looking for the dogs but wouldn’t have been able to phone them as no phone signals. We’ve got 31km of forest to cover so will be freedom camping tomorrow before emerge the following day. Forest is native trees and so nice to be here, we will be walking in stream and rivers tomorrow which will be well cool.
There is a kauri sanctuary down the road a bit but too knackered to go there (keep thinking this is where kauri trees that get run over or neglected by their owners are rescued and Rolf Harris is there to tell us how they are getting on.)
surprise surprise Katrin turned up about an hour after us. She had found the Raetea easier than the Herekino so hats off to her for going it alone. she is already talking about us cheating and won’t be the last time I’m sure.