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.