Ahipara to Kerikeri (almost)

This would have to be as opposite to beach walking as I could get. Gone were the pleasant days of simply following my nose, so long as I was looking down the beach (not out to sea or back to my footprints in the sand).

Ahipara to Kerikeri included <gasp!> hills. Not gently rolling ones like you see in refined English romantic comedies, but gnarly, sweat-inducing, breath-shortening, more-up-than-across, watch-out-for-the-roots/vines, where-is-the-next-orange-marker?, goodness-will-this-ever-end? variety. More a home for ‘Predator vs Rumble in the Jungle’.

The stop/go man at the roadworks just out of Ahipara couldn’t quite grasp the magnitude of my adventure. Thankfully he didn’t cause an accident as he tried to compute the 2,900km still to go.

Herekino Forest was pretty full on, with only a couple of spots to glimpse a view from between the trees. Nearing the end took about 10 minutes to work out a fallen tree was blocking the next orange marker from my sight – the GPS kept telling me I was about to head off in the wrong direction! Thank goodness I still had enough energy to realise my potential blunder.

Highlight for the day was walking through a beautiful part of a managed forest, heading towards Takahue. Early evening sun, flowers, bees, stillness. Ahhhh… may there be many more hours like this!

Pitching my tent at the Takahue Domain, the eyebrows were certainly raised of four teens on two quad-bikes (terrorising the sleepy hamlet with full noise) as they zoomed down to the river where I was. Don’t think they’d seen a one-person tent before.

Next morning was confusing. Trying to find which way the track went (opposite to the DOC orange marker – that was for another walk heading south, where I wanted east) I spent an hour I didn’t need climbing up and down a hill just for practise. Rats.

And so it wasn’t until after lunch the real work began in Raetea Forest. A supposed 8 hours took me 13, and I still didn’t reach Mangamuka! Dusk was falling as I happened across a delightful picnic area with flat grass and a perfect tent-site hidden from the road. Z-zzzzzz.

Hot hot hot can only describe the Mangamuka leg, through the Omahuta Forest. I even had to knock on a farmhouse door and ask the couple if I could refill my water-bottles. The ice-blocks they were licking looked soooooo good. 🙂

In the middle of the forest camped at Mangapa which is basically a bridge and beehives. Took a dip in the cool water and had a night kept awake by the swarm of mozzies just inches from my ears, on the outside of the tent but knocking to come in. Persistent little blighters!

Then another day of pushing the physical boundaries. When will I learn?!

Early start – walking by 7am – to beat the heat and made it out of the forest early afternoon. Gratefully took a 1.6km detour to refill my bottles again at the DOC Puketi Forest Park, and instead of staying put for the night forged on to Kerikeri. Almost made it, but a phone call from Alan Wheatley (local Scout Group leader) saying “Tea’s ready, I’ll come collect you” broke my stride. How could I delay yummy home-grown salad and jelly/icecream? I mean, it would have been rude!

So after letting my shin recover a bit (I took a tumble in Raetea and must have smacked it on something. Swollen nicely, hard to bend so walking flat-footed) I’ll be back to where I left off. Today however, has been poring over maps planning the next segments. Whangarei – here I come!

Thanks for all the messages of support everyone. It’s really cool to know you’re cheering me on from the comfort of your lounges, workplaces and internet cafes…

About Stuart Fleming

Just a guy who likes to walk and write.
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6 Responses to Ahipara to Kerikeri (almost)

  1. Sarah Reaburn says:

    sounds like ur making good progress stuart thats awesum, pity about the injurys so soon….guess u just have to keep on keeping on

    • Thanks Sarah – I wasn’t able to answer when people asked (before I started) “how far are you going to walk each day?” because it depends so much on terrain and where-to-camp spots. Now thankfully I have a better idea, and also an understanding that just because ‘I can’ walk for hours and hours, doesn’t mean I should! 🙂

  2. Deb McFadyen says:

    Hi Stuart, thanks for the latest installment of your adventure, the photos look so amazing I’m almost envious! Ahh, nothing like living an adventure vicariously with all the comforts of home, and no blisters, flat feet, and mozzies to contend with. BTW, home-remedy insect repellent which works really well is one part dettol to two parts baby oil. Worked a treat in Rarotonga where the island mozzies are like small helicopters with attitude. Keep smiling, D

    • Oh yes, I’ve used that DIY version of mozzie repellent before – you just have to be careful you don’t baste your skin with the baby oil in the sunshine. (I’ve never been able to find out how many babies go into a bottle of baby oil…) 😉

  3. Man, that Herekino track was something else, eh? As was the blowdown near the end – I got a bit lost in there too. At Mangamuka Bridge I heard a hiker was about 4-6 hours ahead. Was it your tracks I saw at Mangapa and followed for many km? Sounds like you’re having a great time – go for it! Hope to see you on the trail somewhere.

    • Hi Judith! So you decided on the forest road instead of ‘going bush’ again too, huh? Mangapa was a life-saver: water bottles filled and nice tent-site. Are you through-walking too, or doing it in bits?

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