Day 5: (November 9th) 19.4mi/31.2km Ahipara to Takahue Saddle Rd
We pack up wet, dew covered tents, and after a delicious breakfast of leftover fish and chips, start the long road walk to town (Kaitaia).
SH1 is a busy paved road, but there is good scenery
In town, I stop by the Post office and mail my extra shoes ahead to Hamilton, using a service they have called “Post Restante”. The resupply at the grocery is always entertaining, food is so different here:
The rest of the day drags on, along another roadwalk along paved and then gravel roads.
There are hundreds of cows to keep us entertained along to way! Moo.
We saw several mailboxes that were old microwaves…very strange. Later, we asked some locals and they explained that some people were trying to save money, clever!
As we are approaching the end of the roadwalk, a man walks up to us from his front yard, and offers the 3 of us a place to stay tonight! Rain is in the forecast, and he is very kind in offering, and we decide to stay. Amazing luck!
Day 6: (November 10th) 13.6mi/21.8km Takahue Saddle Rd to camp near Mangamuka
We sleep in till 8am, and lounge around having a late breakfast, hitting the trail at 10 am. We say goodbye to Joe and Koryna, the very generous and hospitable local couple who we stayed with last night.
The roadwalk starts off easy enough, and has no traffic. It climbs up and up to the start of the Raetea forest.
The forest itself is a huge muddy mess, and I spend so much time avoiding the deepest parts, that I completely forget to take any photos. Here is one from our break spot
After our break, the 3 of us started moving faster, realizing that there were only 4 hours of daylight left, but 10 more kilometers, and our average pace in the shin-deep mud was only 1.5 km/hour. We left the forest at 9pm, 30 minutes after sunset, and got to camp soon thereafter. It took so long to wash all the mud off in the creek, I didn’t get to bed until 10pm. Long day!
Day 7: (November 11th) 11.3mi/18.3km Mangamuka camp to Apple Dam camp
I was actually looking forward to the roadwalk today, because it’s not a muddy forest. After an hour or so of walking, the route goes by a dairy. We were talking about milkshakes and ice cream all morning, but unfortunately it was closed! D’oh!
It was an easy rest of the day, on some dirt farm roads. I made some phone calls to family back home; it’s rare that I have service when it’s also a reasonable hour back in the US.
Just before camp, there was a cool huge old stump, of a Kauri tree (NZ’s version of a sequoia, I think?)
This section has limited camps, so this camp was quite crowded, with 15 people. I met some new faces, including a group of French hikers, and another group of German hikers. Cool!
We got into camp quite early, so we played cards, socialized, and went to bed early (8pm) for the long day tomorrow!
Day 8: (November 12th) 20.3mi/32.7km Apple Dam camp to Puketi camp
I started out in the dark, since I knew it would be a long day.
After awhile, the dirt road degraded to a nice trail.
This section was the most fun I’ve had in trail so far, walking in the Mangapukahukahu creek!
After the creek, there is an hour of following a different river on a trail that runs alongside it. It was in the process of being improved, with nice boardwalks to avoid the sidehill sections.
Then, the trail climbs the Puketi ridge, and becomes a very nice trail, the nicest I’ve seen so far here.
Giant Kauri tree.
The final few hours were on an old 4wd road, with no cars, no people, and plenty of views!
Again, camp was busy this night, as it is the only legal camping in the Puketi forest area. The restrictions are to prevent Kauri dieback disease, a fungus which gets into the tree roots and kills the (already endangered) trees.
My favorite day so far!
Day 9: (November 13th) 13.9mi/22.2km Puketi camp to Kerikeri
The walk started at the usual time, just after 7am, and we all were excited to get to town today in Kerikeri. Hot food!
The morning was some fun walking thru sheep and cow fields.
Along the way, a very curious herd of cows was a good diversion. Moo!
Eventually, we entered a short forest, and then joined a path along the Kerikeri river. We had to wash our feet here (this seems common) to prevent the spread of Kauri dieback disease.
Just before getting to town, we passed by 25m high Rainbow falls.
I thought about swimming, but the water was so cold! And I was hungry. So, onward!
The 4 of us got to town at 2pm, it feels great to have the whole afternoon to relax! I grabbed a nice chicken sandwich and chips, and then checked in to the backpacker’s camp down by the river.
We’ve now crossed almost all the way from the west coast to thr east coast…what a week!