Thursday, 19 December 2013

From Russel down to Matapouri

Ben decided he was keen to paddle the harbour across to the Russel forest but Jen and I decided to press on via water taxi rather than wait for the favourable tide the following day. The Russel forest yielded a lot of river walking and then we had trouble finding the right track when the time came to venture back to land. The "hut" mentioned on the map was more of a camp shelter and we stayed there as we realised we wouldn't get out of the forest by dark. The following day we made our way out via a decent four wheeler track which eventually turned into thick bush.

After lunch by a creek we walked on down to the road but not before I realised I had lost a Croc in the bush having secured it to the outside of my pack. Jen suggested that Ben may find it on his way through but I was resigned to having lost it after only one river walk. It was very warm by the time we reached the end of the track, so a swim in the creek was a higher priority than walking on a busy, windy, coastal road. The water was truly bracing but welcome and we stayed there for awhile rather than taking on the long road walk ahead.

We walked on down the road for a few hours before reaching Helena Bay which Jen absolutely loved. We managed to camp at the disused school for $5 each by asking at the house next door. Then, Jen got a text from Ben reading: "I have Lance's left Croc." Trail magic really does happen. Apparently, Ben was now walking with Joe O'brien (who, incidentally, is now ridiculously far ahead of us) who spied my missing flipper amongst the undergrowth, exclaiming "that is a huge Croc!" I was really stoked and this former Croc mocker slept well in the knowledge of a safe sandal.

The following day involved a solid road walk up to a bush track that seemed to cross a couple of private properties. It was hard going toward the end and the spiders had put every web right at my face height. We pushed on down out of the bush and across a farm containing curious cows out to the road. By this stage both Jen's and my GPS had gone flat but we managed to figure out the right path to the campground at Whananaki which was pretty
good but a little pricey.

The following day we waited for Ben and Joe to join us late morning and moved out across the longest foot bridge in the southern hemisphere. We followed the path around some stunning little private beaches and through farmland on down to Matopouri where I was meeting my lovely lady to spend labour weekend in Whangarei. We were all pretty happy to be getting into a vehicle. There is no camping in Matapouri so we dropped Ben, Jen and Joe at the holiday park in Tutakaka and made our way to Whangarei for a spa at the hotel. 

All photos are courtesy of Jen Wray, due to tech difficulties at the time I got no pics. Check her blog:

Outside Countdown Paihia.

The pools in the Russel forest were very inviting
Looking back at the bay
Easr coast view
Crossing the bridge
The Whananaki footbridge
East coast beach
On the way to Matapouri
Tired trampers in for a swim

Friday, 6 December 2013

The King's of Okaihau

As we emerged from the end of the Puketi Forest, at Forest HQ, Ben, Jen and I were greeted by Matt King, a friend of mine who lives in Okaihau. I had warned my hiking companions that Matt is a very colourful character and he did not let them down regailing us with a few slightly inappropriate stories. He is the older brother of my friend Patrick, who I met while at university. Matt now lives on a farm next door to his parents Joe and Jenny with his wife Sara and their three children. I've known the King family for coming up twenty years now and I can tell you that they are true salt of the earth folks.

When we arrived at Matt and Sara's place the farrier was busy shoeing the horses and filing their teeth. He was interested to hear that we were walking from the Cape to the Bluff and related his childhood experience of meeting A H Reed, the New Zealand publisher who walked the length of NZ in 1960 at the age of 85. Alfred Hamish Reed is truly one of NZ's greats and I was disappointed to see he was excluded from the Herald's 150 greatest New Zealanders this year. Anyway, the farrier (whose name now escapes me) explained that his father was involved in the church (as was Reed) and thus they provided Reed a place to stay.

Now, neither Matt nor I are involved in the church but luckily he and Sara were willing to put us up for a couple of nights. A home cooked meal was most welcome as was a roof over our heads after a week outdoors. The next day Matt dropped us off in Kerikeri for a supply mission and took us back out to Okaihau where we cooked a roast of pork for the whanau, including Jo and Jenny; I'm bloody lucky to know such good people. To top it off, Joe asked if we would like to go out on the Bay of Islands for a couple of days on his boat "Day Dreamer" and of course we couldn't refuse.

After an uneventful and unremarkable hike across some farmland we reached Kerikeri and spent the night at the Central backpackers. Joe picked us up the next morning and we headed out for a couple of magical days on the Bay complete with dolphins and tall ships. Joe is involved in the Coast Guard and knows a lot of the boaties in the area so we had a few visits from locals dropping by for a cuppa. It was great that Ben and Jen got to experience the Bay and Ben even caught his first fish. I really appreciated all of the help from the Kings and I'd love to go in to more detail but time is tight and seeing as right now I'm actually in Te Kuiti, I've got a lot to cover. Thanks out to Jen for the photos check her blog at:

Joe pulling up to the wharf at Waitangi
Dolphins visiting Robertson Island

Me feeling decidedly uncoordinated
These guys stayed for about three hours