After a much needed rest day, chatting with other hikers mostly!Where I met the lovely Elana, who helped patch up all the holes in my feet. We decided to attack the northern forests together!
My pack is full of food and people are telling me to stay another day, as my blisters are still more like gaping wounds, but I know if I loose my momentum I’ll never get going again.
So a few of us set off on the road walk to the trail head, expecting the worst from the “hell of Herekino” Simon and Dahn both super experienced, having completed the PCT (a very long walk in the states.) Carrying packs lighter than postage stamps, they blew past myself and Elana. Elana and I have a similar enough pace, that we decided to tackle the forest together. But with limited camping through the forest our first day is short. So we make camp, having an early dinner and talking about anything. Elana even playing the wee guitar she’s carrying the whole way!
The following morning we break camp, still wondering where the mud is and blaze ahead. We found the mud. While it wasn’t knee deep, it definitely slowed us down. We kept a reasonable pace with a few slightly longer breaks than we should have, we pushed ahead to the tramp inn, and the “loo with a view” topped up on drinking water and carried on.
As darkness and rain crept in on us, we reached the start of the next forest section. A rushed camp was made by the road side and once fed we were quickly asleep. Positive thoughts needed apparently!
Highs – new friends, good music
Lows – blisters looking infected still
A slightly delayed morning as we climbed from our tents to prepare. Goals set for the day, we filled our water at a beautiful stream. Knowing it was our last opportunity for a few days.
We then met an interesting local, “Gnomad” who given the chance would have kept talking to us all day. He runs the eco village, and had a view on everything which he was very happy to share. If you’d like to hear a little bit of what he said, check out Elana’s Instagram humans of Te Araroa, where she is documenting some of the characters she meets during her travels!
Having lost a bit more of our morning we finally entered the Ratea Forest.
We also found the mud. It was a tough day, full of falls and slow technical walking. Some very steep climbs too. We ended up at one of the highest summits in Northland, with beautiful views from our campsite, we watched the sun go down and I celebrated with a very beat up can of beer, that I’d carried from Ahipara.
The next day we woke full of condensation in our tents, up amongst the clouds. We bumped into 2 other hikers who moved a little slower than us, but we’re better at getting up early in the morning! Meg and Simone, once they stopped for their lunch we left them behind and continued through some even deeper mud. Even more falls, luckily this time it was very downhill! Everytime the track would start to improve, it would throw a new obstacle in our way, generally deeper mud, often it felt like there was no trail at all.
Highs – my beer, finding a kauri snail, actually being physical high up
Lows – sore feet, very wet shoes, and muddy muddy socks, packing up a wet tent, feeling like every step was going to put you on your back!
We popped out onto some farm land, walked out and said hello as we past the farmers.
We hit state highway 1, found a little river and thought it was a good place to remove most of the mud from ourselves and our shoes. Having a look at our map and the time, we decided to try hitch a few kms rather than be stuck walking on the narrow edge of the highway. We got a ride to the Mangamuka Bridge dairy, arrived at closing time, but the lovely ladies inside ushered us in so we could buy our treats and she even made us some toasted sammies. After a rather expensive resupply, we paid a koha to stay in a room next door to the store, it was very bare and plain. But it was dry and we were tired.
But as tired as we’re, I convinced Elana that we should go to the bingo night we had been invited to! After a few quick lessons on how it would work, we bought some bingo cards, enjoyed a very odd evening getting to know some locals, a few cups of tea and some mussel chowder!
The next morning we realized we only wanted to walk about 12km to apple tree camp, and before we left, Meg and Simone caught up with us again! So we all had the trashiest brunch possible. Bacon and egg sammies, hot chips, ice cream. It was hiker trash heaven!
So eventually the 4 of us set off in the direction of the forest.
Highs – bingo night!
Leaving – the dairy and it’s treats behind us
After a little more road walking then expected we reached the Apple tree camp. Where we saw Alex, one of the hikers who left Ahipara before us. She had been holed up in a locals home, with a very fat ankle. I’m always glad to hear tales of kiwis kindness! Through the evening more hikers arrived and by bed time, 10 Te Araroa hikers we’re our little camp!
The next day was a good variety of terrain, we started with a little more road walking, before hiking a good portion of the day through the river. It was very pleasant. As we left the stream, we found Meg, who decided she liked it here so much she was just going to stay the night and enjoy it. I was kind of tempted myself! We then climed up to Puketi ridge track, my legs weren’t happy about that, I believe I was quite dehydrated. Now truly wish I’d been a bit more snap happy as I have no photos from the monumental kauri forests along the ridge. It was a truly magical place to walk through, you felt both insignificant next to these giants, and also empowered by their presence!
Alex and I moved slowly while Elana went on ahead. Alex is definitely more capable than I am, but I just couldn’t leave someone who was injured behind. I hope I didn’t offend.
Highs – the Majesty of the kauri, making it to camp in the dark
Lows – legs cramping up on my way up the ridge, dead possum highway
We still have a day to Kerikeri, but this is just a gentle stroll through farmland and roads. Elana loved the sheep, and we all enjoyed the Kerikeri River track to rainbow falls. Once we reached the stone store, we had to go our separate ways! I’m staying with friends, while the girls look for a campsite.
Of course a few kms from the end of my day, it began to bucket down. So even though I still had a pack, and I had walked about 25km. I ran it!
Highs – a real bed and a beer
Lows – leaving the girls, finding a sheep who was in labor but wasn’t doing well and being unable to help
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little story telling. I’m not much of a writer, but I need to tell my story and remind you why I am doing this.
I’m walking for the mental health foundation, raising funds and awareness. If you can, share my story, share my social media, help me to get the word out. Or even DONATE yourselves.
I’m a bit hard to talk to while I’m out on the trail, but there is always someone who will listen. Kia Kaha.