Six consecutive days walking – the longest stretch so far carrying a full load…
The lovely Sherryll and Connie at Russell’s Top 10 Holiday Park welcomed me back and squeezed me in to their very popular campground for the night. It was one month exactly since I hobbled away from their cabin-upgrade with the aim to get fully fit before returning.
Slow and steady – that was my motto this time around. Regular stretching of the legs, decent rest stops, less ‘just in case’ food items = lighter pack. And it seemed to be working…
The shot-gun holes in the DoC sign where I had hoped to camp the night encouraged me to continue up the Russell Walkway, away from the dirt road. At the trig were awesome views and a hilltop of gorse, so the tent was pitched on a jaunty angle, complete with tree roots to lay on.
Papakauri Stream was deliciously clear to refill the bottles next day, which was fortunate. All afternoon was a sweaty battle with 7-foot high gorse bushes determined to dominate the track, with the aid of cutty-grass. Throw in three slips to negotiate around and it was a ‘prick’ of a section. On the plus side, it did mean that I wound up camping at Whangaruru (and helping Nigel, Emma and Amira pitch their new Taj Mahal of a tent), a spot I would never have visited. I am so glad I got to experience this little piece of Kiwi paradise and can’t wait to return with more time to enjoy it.
Shade. Have you noticed how different the cool shade of a tree is compared to that of a building? I have a whole new appreciation for trees after the sunny days this week.
Morepork Track almost saw me squashed. Three hunters (Grandad, Dad and son?) and their six dogs squeezed their truck past my tent as I was breakfasting. Each dog wore a collar that tracked its location to a hand-held GPS unit: no slacking off for a pig-dog these days when your activity is monitored!
Sitting on a ridge at lunch that day I was thinking about these hunters. I became conscious of grunting behind me… three little pigs scurried across the track and ran down the hillside. I couldn’t see any straw or 4-by-2 or bricks, so can only assume there were no wolves around, thankfully. At least the hunters had rifles…
Did you realise the longest pedestrian bridge in the southern hemisphere crosses Whananaki Estuary?
On reaching Sandy Bay (after drooling at all the amazing coastal views and stunning holiday homes/private beaches) I couldn’t find a spot without a ‘no camping’ sign. I asked a passing mother/daughter pair if they knew of any suitable campsites, and suddenly I was bundled into their car to have dinner with them and the rest of the family at Tutukaka, crashing the night on a dangerously-comfy mattress on their lounge floor. Thanks muchly to Bryce, Gayleen, Matthew, Brendon and Lisa for an amazing evening! You guys rock 🙂
As ‘Builder Brendon’ gave me a lift back to Sandy Bay the next morning, I gave him grief about the melted vanilla icecream on his car console. Just shows I’m not a surfer… apparently it was melted surfboard wax. Ooops!
Was it wrong to try to calculate how many massive table-tops you could mill from Tane Moana, the giant kauri tree with enormously thick trunk?
From Ngunguru (which I reckon should be pronounced Nu-nu-ru, but everyone says Nung-a-ru) was a very hot 18km of roadside walking. Funniest thing was a passing car with a sit-on kayak sticking out both back windows.
Finally made it to Mackerel Track, which was whiffy from the smoke of a fire further down the road: three rural fire trucks had raced past me and a couple of helicopters were buzzing around. Pitched in the shade by a stream, which though shallow was welcomingly refreshing.
I need to be careful when I say things like “Whangarei is in sight” because even though it looks close (and achieveable) on the map, you just never know… a morning of more freakin’ gorse slowed down progress. So did the forestry logging efforts hiding the track marker. An hour of bush-bashing trying to reach the road I knew was there but couldn’t get to because of a cliff drop-off was quite frustrating!
And then more hot roadside. I left Te Araroa proper and cut more directly to Whangarei, wanting to find Sara and Si at Bay Cafe in Parua Bay. Janine – my Christchurch Ceroc friend – had arranged to send me a care package and shout me some yummy tucker at her mate’s cafe. A berry smoothie has never, ever tasted so good. Thanks guys!
Reunited with my bounce-box, I’m having today off, staying with Gay, the Zone Leader for Scouts in Whangarei. My weary body was certainly ready for another comfy mattress. The bonus was home-made rhubarb and apple pie 🙂 Hopefully that might counteract the almost 2kg I seem to have misplaced somewhere along this leg of my journey.
From here? The adventure continues: Auckland “is in sight”.
Hey Stu, hows you? All this talk of yummy tucker makes me wanna come along!!