Day 10: (November 14th) 15.9mi/25.8km Kerikeri to Paihia
I woke up as usual just after 6am, and packed up a wet tent. Camping near rivers is a losing battle against moisture. It’s a nice quiet walk back through town, and I’m back on trail 30 minutes later. It’s a nice walk along the Kerikeri river:
The path leaves the river at the Stone Store, NZ’s oldest building, from 1821!
It feels like not a day goes by without walking thru some farm fields, which of course means the requisite greeting “Hi cows!”
The water sources on this section are less than desirable. Good thing it’s a short section!
As I got closer to the next town, Paihia, the Bay of Islands came into view… beautiful!
The rest of the walk into town was on dirt and paved roads. It’s easy walking, but it makes my feet unhappy. At least I was distracted by the views and thoughts of town food!
We got into town early, and the three of us (Andrea/”Kumquat”, Amanda, and I) shared a bunk room at the Pickled Parrot. It was a fun spot, and we saw other TA walkers come in, so we all got to swap stories!
Day 11: (November 15th) 0mi/0km Zero day in Paihia
We decided to take a zero day, to rest our feet & legs. This trail is kind of relentless with the roadwalking, and it’s catching up. Paul is moving on today, but I’m hopeful we can catch him again! We have arranged for some kayaks tomorrow morning, as there is a 17km water section that requires paddling. But for today, nothing to do but some quick town chores (groceries, laundry) and relaxing!
Andrea is a food lover, and made this wonderful Mexican casserole for dinner in the hostel kitchen!
Day 12: (November 16th) 16.0mi/25.7km Paihia to Russell Forest hut
This was an easy day on the feet! We woke up late, since we didn’t have to be at the kayak shop until 11am, and it was only 5 minutes away. We had a brief safety introduction, and then we were on our way!
We paddled across the bay, and up Waikare inlet. Such a nice day too!
After 3.5 hours of paddling, we pulled our boats up to shore, and Dan (kayak owner) picked them up in his truck, and we were back on our way into the forest.
The trail into Russell Forest started off nice, then quickly joined a small stream, which we hiked in for 4km or so.
We decided to camp near a hut in the forest, it had some flat grassy areas to pitch tents. It will be wet and dewy, but the terrain in these forests doesn’t give many camping options!
Day 13: (November 17th) 20.8mi/33.4km Russell Forest hut to Morepork Track
As expected, I wake up with a tent soaked in dew. Sweet- another long lunch break to dry it out!
The first hour is nice walking on a forest 4wd road, and then it drops us out onto a paved road for 13k. Bleh.
As we are nearing our planned lunch spot by a small beach, a man approaches us, and tells us we can get water from his house down the street. People here are so nice!
Our lunch spot by a beach. Lots of people and gear drying out!
The afternoon is a hike up into the forest, climbing up 300m. It’s a very new and well marked trail!
We take a nice break at the top of the 300m climb, and enjoy the beautiful weather. We’ve had nice sunny weather for the two weeks that I’ve been here!
Hikertrash heap #27 of he trail: Amanda, Achille, and Andrea
We decided to camp on a highpoint on the Morepork track, so after another 10k of walking, we arrive at 6pm and setup our tents. It’s a very small spit, since the tents are suuuper close.
Day 14: (November 18th) 21.6mi/34.8km Morepork Track to Nikau Bay camp
Well, last night’s camp spot wasn’t as ideal as we thought. So…. many…possums. We slept with our food to keep it safe, and the possums kept screeching all night long. We didn’t get much sleep, but had to get up early to push almost 35km to a river crossing by 5:30pm, where a local man (James) would pick us up in his fishing boat.
I was half awake, but I remembered to take some morning photos:
Andrea cleaning off her shoes, at one of many cleaning stations designed to prevent Kauri dieback disease (a fungus which kills the large trees)
A few kms later, we cross the longest pedestrian footbridge in the southern hemisphere!
The rest of the morning is a beautiful walk thru some farm areas
As we are walking by some houses on a roadwalk, a man says “would you all like a cold beer?” It’s only 11am, but why not?
The four of us hikers joined the six of them, and they had been watching the “All Blacks” game and drinking all morning, haha! After a couple beers and an hour, we got moving again to catch our boat at 5:30pm.
Along the way, we passed a MASSIVE tree!
We made it to the boat dock around 6pm. A little later than planned, but we had a fun beer stop, and I forgot my hiking pole at a dairy, so I had to run back the 1km to get it…ugh.
We stayed at James’ camp, camp Nikau. A great spot, we even had a campfire!
We can sleep in tomorrow– there will be an estuary to cross tomorrow, and low tide isn’t until noon. A relaxing night!