Day 21: (November 25th) 16.7mi/26.8km J Tolhopf Road to Orewa Beach Holiday Park
We wake up in the barn, and didn’t sleep well last night, because the lambs had just been weaned and were crying all night. Finally the rain stops, and we head out. The first hour is thru a high grass field, which is occasionally muddy and slippery.
Finally we come out onto the Puhoi River track, and it’s soo nice! It follows above the river for a couple hours, and drops us into the town of Puhoi, which is having a Sunday farmer’s market. Perfect!
After a nice break with fresh fruit and bread, we do a scary roadwalks along the highway 1 motorway, where it’s 4 lanes wide and the speed limit is 100. Yikes.
After another ice cream breakat a small dairy, we hit a beach section. It’s a rocky beach, but fun.
And it has a cave! Andrea & Amanda are exploring its depths.
We get to the town of Orewa Beach, and stay at a holiday park, where Achille is waiting for us. There are 4 of us, so it’s actually cheaper to get a cabin (4 bunks) than a tent site… perfect!
Day 22: (November 26th) 12.2mi/19.6km Orewa Beach Holiday Park to Brown’s Bay
We get a really late start, since we need to cross an estuary in 8miles, and low tide isn’t until 4:30pm. We hang out at the holiday park all morning, and leave just after noon. Andrea has a painful knee, so she takes a bus to Auckland and will meet us tomorrow. The 3 of us do the easy roadwalk to a grocery store, where I buy a trash bag to protect my pack in case the water crossing is deep.
The distances in the next section are a little off, so we end up running a few short stretches to make up time. I’ve attempted to link a video here:
Then, the crossing!
Achille and I find an optimal spot to cross, and it’s only mid-thigh deep. Not too bad!
Amanda catches up, and we make our way across some nice fields.
We are staying at a friend’s house tonight. I was introduced to Ben thru a mutual friend in Boston, and he and his family have invited us for dinner! So amazing!
Day 23: (November 27th) 13.4mi/21.6km Brown’s Bay to Auckland CBD
We get up at 7am, and have an incredible breakfast – croissants, coffee, all the good things. We say our goodbyes, and start moving around 8am.
Most of the day is roadwalks, or along paths on the coast.
It’s a good day for walking, not raining or too hot. We get to the ferry terminal at 1pm, where we have to take a $7 hourly ferry to get across the harbor to Auckland.
Of course, I find ice cream.
We get into Auckland CBD an hour later. I find the Christmas decorations terrifying, but admire the dedication.
We stay at a hostel downtown, and go out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Mmm… margaritas!
Day 24: (November 28th) 25.2mi/40.6km Auckland CBD to Manukau / Roscommon Rd
I get up late, and catch a bus to Manakau City, so I can slack-pack the 40km back to the same hostel. I start hiking at 9am, and promptly cross paths with Paul! I also see 4 other hikers, and then I enter the airport area.
I stop for a milkshake and lunch at a KFC, which are weirdly common here. A few kilometers later there are these amazing futuristic toilets here that talk to you, here is the video: https://youtu.be/74miL0G1GS0
The rest of the afternoon is quieter, along walkways, in parks and green spaces.
I go over the famous One Tree Hill, which is now missing its tree.
Also, Mt Eden, another famous Auckland landmark.
I get back into the city at 6pm, and Andrea has made dinner at the hostel! She rocks. Especially because it’s fish tacos. Good day!
Day 25: (November 29th) 16.6mi/26.7km Manukau/Roscommon Rd to Ramarama/Maxted Rd
I get up and check out of the hostel, and catch the same bus back to Manakau city, to pick up where I left off. It’s mostly a road walk day, though the trail does go thru a nice botanical gardens. Not a very eventful day.
I’m approaching my planned camping spot at Ramarama RV Park, and a woman pulls over and offers me a ride to her house, and a place to stay! So nice! I arrive to the house and meet her husband Brent, and we chat on the porch and watch the approaching rainstorm. Their kids arrive home from school, and we have a lovely dinner together.
Day 26: (November 30th) 18.0mi/29.0km Ramarama/Maxted Rd to Mercer
I say goodbye to Brent & family, and hit the trail at 8am when the kids leave for school.
It’s more roadwalks today, but Scenic and mostly on quiet roads.
There is a scary 3km section on highway 2, but it’s over with quickly. I turn off the road onto a “stopbank” (a grass levee to prevent river flood), and catch Amanda, yay!
The rest of the afternoon is on stopbanks, and we arrive to the town of Mercer. We setup our tents behind Podges Place, a hiker-friendly local bar. And there is a cheese factory next door!
After cheese, we indulge in the all you can eat BBQ dinner. Life is good.
Day 27: (December 1st) 24.5mi/39.3km Mercer to Huntly Whirotangi Park
It rained almost all night, and I pack up as soon as the rain stops, and Amanda and I hike out at 7:15am. The first 3km is in overgrown & swampy farm fields, and is annoying. We are so happy to see a road!
The 5km walk along SH1 isn’t bad, at least there is a nice wide shoulder.
The next part is on a stopbank along the Waikato River, and even has some cows for entertainment.
We stop at an amazing pie place for a late lunch, and wait out some heavy rains. The rest of the afternoon is on a stopbank, and we pass thru a beautiful Huntly golf course. We stop to camp in a small riverside park near a power plant, and setup our tents just in time before the next rain comes!
Day 28: (December 2nd) 25.5mi/41.2km Huntly Whirotangi Park to Hamilton CBD
I wake up early at 6am, as the area doesn’t feel super safe (graffiti & broken glass). I walk the road for an hour.
I get to a forest section, where I wait for Amanda. After 30 minutes, I figure she changed plans, so I continue on. The path starts off very nice, and even has stairs.
Then… 8km of mud & overgrown trail. Darn. It’s slow, and it rains hard most of the way, but I get to the summit tower on the other side of the ridge at 12:30pm.
I cruise down the stairs, and I start to warm up. I take a break at the bottom, where it’s nice and sunny, and spread out some gear to dry. The motivational sign helps my cold wet psyche.
I continue thru a small town, which is having a festival.
The rest of the walk into Hamilton is quite nice, on a bike path along the Waikato River.
I get to town at 6pm and checkin to my hostel. Long day!