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: http://jennsjourneying.blogspot.co.nz