173 – 198 Puketi Recreational Park

Up before dawn this morning in order to get through the flood prone Mangapukahukahu Gorge before rain was forecast to hit at 1pm.

The Gorge was easy. Just 2.5kms of crossing gravel beds and not falling in deep pools. At the end there was a short trip to a better crossing of the main river and then upward.

I had only intended, originally, to go halfway through the Puketi Forest but we made such good time that we just kept on going.

The problem with massive stands of Kauri is that you can’t photograph them. You either get the base or the top but never both. About half way up the hill I was sweating and puffing when Josie came bouncing past me not even looking out of breath.

It was very nice anyway. Probably the nicest place I have been so far. I’ll leave it at that.

Hindsight

  • The trail is easier to follow than it makes out. There was something about a turn off by a forestry sled but I never saw that and still ended up in the right place.
  • The little campsite in the middle was very nice. I should have stayed there.
  • The showers at Puketi Recreation Park are incredibly cold.

Puketi Recreation Park Map


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198 – 224 Kerikeri

Poor campers. I tried to camp away from everybody so they wouldn’t be disturbed either by my snoring or early pack up but loads of people turned up at 6pm and camped right around me….typical.

So off at dawn we went over gravel roads and farmland, polluted waterways and under bridges until joining up with the Kerikeri River and down to Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Falls is very picturesque. But its beauty was slightly marred by having come down some of the gritty polluted waterways of its tributaries. Note to others; Do not swim in the Kerikeri River.

Unfortunately the path past the Falls was closed for track upgrades due to Kauri die back so I had to make a detour around. There are some seriously nice houses in Kerikeri. In fact the whole place is quite nice.

Eventually I rolled into the Stone Store gasping,”Pies! Lift!” . Only to be greeted by some weirdly dressed young woman with a fake old age New Zealand accent. I mean really, did the original owners really sound like they went an English boarding school…maybe they did. Maybe she just had a speech impediment? I have, horribly, made that mistake before.

Anyway, having ascertained that they sold no store items of any use to me, and flustering her enough that she was slipping in and out of character, I went and found a real store.

Now I am at Top Ten….something and it is very nice. I bought some wine and cheese to celebrate plus 200kms and will rest for a couple of days.

Hindsight

  • The trail was easy to follow except at one point I headed off towards a cell tower which wasn’t the right way.
  • Kerikeri is great for resupply and a rest.
  • Top Ten Holiday park was good and the owner will give you a lift back to the trail-head (I don’t think I paid him anything. I am sure I offered).

Kerikeri Map


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224 – 250 Paihia

I have just realised that all my posts seem to start with some version of up at dawn so I am going to try and leave that out from now on.

Besides, that wasn’t the case anyway.

Walked from Kerikeri to Paihia. Mostly though pine forest and emerging at the Waitangi Golf Course.

Thought about going through the Waitangi tour but the place was packed with tourists and having looked at the cafe I wasn’t prepared to pay that much for food anyway.

And I was hungry so Ken and I (Ken is a multi trail hiker and has done the Alaskan, PCT, and Appalachian trails) got fish and chips in Paihia and then headed for the YHA to try and get some more people together to make our boat ride up the Veronica Channel to the next trail head a bit cheaper.

The boat doesn’t leave until 4pm so this is almost a rest day.

Hindsight

  • Walking through the pine forest section can be tricky and the map doesn’t show all the roads. Check your GPS.
  • Waitangi is expensive. It is this way as the government doesn’t own it the local Iwi does and as such they have to pay for it as well.

Paihia Map


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250 – 270 Papakauri Stream 

Leaving Paihia was a bit harder than expected. We had called Dusty to arrange transportation up the Waikare Inlet and were set to meet him at Opua at 4:15pm which was lucky really because the rain wasn’t stopping.

Eventually we just left and walked through the rain along the road in order to make sure we were there on time.

The rain had stopped by the time we got to Opua and we were met shortly after by Harry and Emma who had left an hour after us and had had lovely time walking around the coastline in the sun.

Dusty was late. He also said he was in the wrong boat so we had to go really quickly (It was  a deep V) or he might get stuck as we had missed the tide. What followed was a speedy, but controlled, dash through the harbour into the mangroves where we disembarked on a grass bank and then he was off again.

After that it was pretty much just walk as far as we could. An hour later we made it to the start of the river section and camped up for the night.

Hindsight

  • You will need to book a boat to take you up to the trail-head. This is the second time that tides will rule your life as the estuary is shallow at the end.
  • The boat owner can help you find other people to go up with. Make sure you are on time. They get really angry at people saying they will come and then not turning up.
  • If the boat is not your thing then the walk round was quite nice from what I heard.
  • If you can get there early then there is a decent camp at the top of the river walk. But, if you reach the river too late then camp at the bottom. There really weren’t many flat places I saw in between.

Papakauri Stream Map

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270 – 303 Morepork Track

Since we were already at the beginning of the Waikare River we jumped straight in. Literally.

My boots stayed dry for about 10 minutes and have been wet now for about 10 hrs (Damn you gortex!). Other than that it was a great walk up and alongside the river until we got to a DOC shelter and had to do a diversion due to a Kauri dieback rahui.

After that there was a lot of road walking. Hot, sweaty, hard on already wet feet, road walking. The last part after Helena Bay was on metal roads though and, although steep, was fantastic.

Finding a place to camp was a bit of a problem though so eventually we gave up and I have camped in the middle of the track. Ken is off the side in his smaller tent and we appear to have momentarily lost Emma and Harry.

Hindsight

  • Don’t bother trying to keep your feet dry in the river. You can’t.
  • We filtered some water out of a stream by a sculpture. That was our last water for the day.
  • There is a Waikahoa Bay Campsite but you have to turn off before Morepork Track. It is supposedly very nice. I think Emma and Harry went there.
  • Ken and I have a camping problem. He says, “Let’s camp here” and I say “No”. The roles oscillate back and forth and we don’t end up camping anywhere. Yes, there will always be a better spot around the corner. Just camp. It saves time and effort.

Morepork Track Map


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303 – 337 Ngunguru 

Today was a lesson in carefully reading my trail notes. It started out as an easy day with all the routes adding up to roughly 24km but unfortunately I had failed to add in the other 10km of road walking so here I sit, blearily looking at my cell phone trying to remember the day. It’s not going to happen.

OK. The were some ups and downs, beaches, rich people’s house’s, a kiwi sanctuary, a pine forest, two hamburgers, two hot dogs, and four ciders.

Also Ngunguru is pronounced Ngun-gu-ru…against all rhyme or reason. Surely it should be Ngu-ngu-ru? Let’s just throw the rule book out the window shall we?

There was also a rather large Kauri called Tane Moana. Sorry, no photo. It was just to big to even think about trying.

Hindsight

  • Curiously, I still can’t remember that day. Considering we were low on water the day before. This might be the after effects.
  • In Ngunguru we had to wait for the tide yet again to get to James place across the water.
  • You can walk around the heads after the Ngunguru Estuary but I have heard it isn’t all that great.

Ngunguru Map


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337 – 339 Nero Day

According to Ken a near zero day is called a Nero Day. I will bow to his wisdom.

This Nero Day in particular are was filled with resupply, two pies, six ciders, a burger, and a long wait for James to come over the estuary to pick us up. It was well worth the wait.

It turns out that not only did James work on Hercules with the Harres, Wheelers, Bethells, and Worleys but that his place was amazing. Really amazing. I’ll let the pictures talk for themselves.

One small piece of misfortune happened though in that in the middle of the night I was awakened by the sound of 1000 fleas jumping inside the head of my blow up mattress.  I couldn’t see anything wrong with it and lay back down only to have it suddenly de-laminate.

Although it looks pillowish, I fear it will never function as one.

(Oh, and if you are wondering why there is a picture of a cup? Ken fell in love with it, proclaimed her the perfect woman, and made it his screen saver.)

Hindsight

  • Another day waiting for the tide to go out…….
  • New Zealand is a very small place.
  • I wish I had of spent the day at James instead of in Ngunguru waiting for him to get back from work. Better prior planning may have achieved this.

339 – 386 Peach Cove Camp

Some small amount of cheating may have occurred during this day….perhaps not cheating. That might be a bit to harsh, but a definite aversion to road walking took preeminence.

James dropped us off at the trail head which saved us 8kms of road walking but the trail was only 4.5kms long so after an hour or so we were looking at another 13kms of road walking so we hitched a ride to Pataua North and started from there.

This turned out to be a good decision as it lined us up with the tide for walking both the Taiharuru River estuary crossing and, after summiting Kauri Mountain, the walk down Ocean Beach to Bream Head.

Bream Head is very steep and has many steps. Right now I am 857 steps down from the main trail at Peach Cove Hut. We have disturbed a group of young people (2 male, 1 female), I patched one of them up (cut finger), and soon I will keep them awake by snoring loudly. Currently they are all sitting very quietly in the hut with the door closed.

Tomorrow we cross by boat to Marsden Point.

Hindsight

  • Just before you get to the estuary there is an old house with a red and white flag flying. This is the United Tribes flag.
  • Read the notes properly. We didn’t and tried to cross the estuary at different points until we were shattered and climbed up on the wharf. Another walker came along, looked at his notes and walked straight across in the right place.
  • There was supposed to be some super duper campground on Ocean Beach but we never found it.
  • Ocean beach is another section to watch the tide on.
  • Peach Cove is a nice hut and worth staying the night at but it has to be booked. You can just camp outside though.

Peach Cove Camp Map


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386 – 409 Ruakaka Reserve Motor Camp

Today began with its ups and downs. Up 857 (Ken said 811. I lost count) steps to the trail from Peach Cove Camp and then over the seemingly infinity numerous steps on Bream Head. So many steps…..

On the bright side there were maybe 20 Moreporks last night, a couple of Kaka, and some Rails I think. I am still yet to hear a Kiwi.

Also the Nikau on Bream Head have wider bases so perhaps the Kaka are reseeding them there from the Barrier.

After the steps we travelled around bays until we reached the end point of the trail and called our “contact” to take us over. But we had gone to far so we short cutted a kilometer or two and met Duncan at Ruatahi Bay.

A quick drive on his International tractor and then a short ride in the boat and we had made it to the other side. All for $20.

Marsden Point is …well Marsden Point….but Bream Bay was rather nice and absolutely covered in seashells.

Unfortunately, my left foot was a little under the weather so we only made it just past the liquor store in Ruakaka to the Motor Camp where they have given us $60 rooms for  $20 because we are TA walkers.

So now we sleep…..

Hindsight

  • There is a decent toilet at the end of the Bream Head track.
  • There is a dairy that wasn’t in the notes on trail at Taurikura Bay.
  • Read the map. We walked a long way because I didn’t, and then we had to walk back again.
  • Angelynn did the tour at Marsden Point and said it was quite interesting.
  • If you do the estuary avoidance walk around. There is a bank, takeaways, etc….at the corner of Peter Snell and Marsden point roads.
  • Watch out for the bird lady when crossing the estuary at Ruakaka. She will be the one yelling at you for standing on nests.

Ruakaka Map

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409 – 418 Waipu

Pretty much another Nero Day. Short walk from Ruakaka to Waipu, resupply, and rest. Going to see Ashley and Aubrey tomorrow and have another rest.

The bakery at Waipu is quite good and reasonably priced. Plus the Indian restaurant across the road is good. Although a bit pricey. It was the first time Ken had ever had Indian though so it was a nice introduction for him.

I have been dreaming of a steak slathered in baked beans and cheese. This came true today.

You might have noticed that almost this entire post is about food. Food is very important. I have to keep my strength up.

Tane’s Rest and Recovery Meal

  • One large decent steak (plate sized)
  • Onion, sliced
  • Cup of cheese
  • One can of Watties Baked Beans
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Beer

Open beer. Cook steak to almost desired consistency adding onions near the end. Remove steak to rest on plate and overcook baked beans. Pour beans on steak and slather with cheese. Add pepper and salt(if wanted). Stand back and wait for cheese to melt a bit. Open another beer.

Hindsight

  • Waipu is a nice place.
  • We stayed at Waipu Wanderers – BBH. There are probably just as many BBHs on the trail as YHAs. It might be worth getting a card for the discounts.

Waipu Map


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