The first big question? How to get across the Whangarei harbour-mouth to Marsden Point. Almost had a boat-ride organised before leaving Gay’s place, but it didn’t eventuate. Walked through the drizzle to McLeod Bay where the generous Kerry at The Deck Cafe offered his dingy and his son to take me across, but it turned out his daughter was heading to Auckland that morning so I had a great chat with Kirsty as she negotiated the wet roads and deposited me at the Marsden Point information centre. Thanks heaps Kirsty!
The model of the refinery is amazingly intricate – 1:33 scale, it took four men 18 months to build and is still used today for training new staff.
To prove it is a very small world we live in, I was in a daydream walking through Ruakaka when I realised a car had pulled off the road in front of me. Out hopped Toby, one of the Scouts I had joined for dinner at Jamboree. He was holidaying just around the corner with his mother – they invited me out of the rain for a hot drink and sit-down. This turned into joining them for bbq dinner and crashing for the night. Much appreciated Toby and Rowena!
It was a bleak grey morning walking down to the beach to Waipu. This was the day of the ‘twin storms’ – the downpour finally came in the afternoon. Had the ‘pleasure’ of meeting Darryl… I’m still not sure whether he/she was male or female (long story – get the book).
I’m loving reaching the top of a hill and looking back to where I’ve walked from, knowing it has been my own feet and sweat that’s got me there. Very empowering.
Hopped, skipped and jumped my way around the rocks to Mangawhai, where I chatted with Dean the next morning as he recharged his car’s battery. When we introduced ourselves, he surprised me with a Scout hand-shake: his son had been a Scout so smiled when he learnt of my adventure.
Want an example of Kiwi-kid ingenuity? Tie up two canoes mid-stream of a bridge and spend the day fishing with no effort!
Another long hot day of beach walking contrasted majorly with the following days, which brought wild wind and heavy rain. Chatting with Big Mal at Pakiri Campground, I decided to avoid the super-slippery mountain track looming the next day. A wise decision, as it turned out. Thanks Mal!
Surface flooding meant my preferred exit from Warkworth was blocked, so I had to back-track to town and head all the way down State Highway 1 in the wet to Orewa. Thanks to Sylvia (@emotive_ a Twitter follower) for bringing me a delicious hot chocolate.
I was hosted that night by in Orewa by Pauline (@stockhausens) who also took me to the Mahurangi Scout Zone AGM, where I lined up some local assistance for the next day’s efforts.
Another body of water was in the way: thanks to Sonja from Orewa Sea Scouts for the short boat-ride across the Weiti River. I walked the coastline that afternoon with Sena, Sonja and her three sons. Very good company, especially when Daniel was happy to test water-depths. Shame the third channel was not initially visible (and as I found out, rather deep)!
Again was hosted, this time by Keall and Liam who with Simon and James entertained me over delicious Indian dinner with tales of their trip to the Asia-Pacific Jamboree in the Philippines. More Kiwis should experience international Scouting – the memories last forever.
Liam and James joined me the next day for the final leg, down the North Shore Coastal Walk. Raewyn, Nick and Vicki also came for a stroll. Mike joined us in time for ice-cream at Devonport. The storm-messed-up tides and beach debris played a bit of havoc, but it was a very enjoyable day.
I’d done it! 15 days walking in 16 days to complete the ‘missing bit’ from Paihia to Auckland. The body felt weary but strong. I’m yet to calculate with accuracy but I reckon I’ve done about 750km – that’s a quarter of the trail.
Bring on the rest of the Waikato… Wellington, here we come!