Last evening we all shot down the road to Chris and Manuela's to grab the little boat (thanks again guys!) for an early-ish start this morning (Sunday). High tide was 0730 and after a short false start I think we launched from the Opua boat ramp and headed off up the Waikare around 0830. As well as the 12km or so up the Waikare (gps track here), we did another 22km of the TA today (gps track here), as well as an additional 3km to get to the Whangaruru Campground.
We had a very pleasant trip up to the very head of the Waikare Inlet. Neither Andrew nor Ria had been right up to the top of the inlet before, so it was a new experience for all. The gps, with the Viewranger app, on the phone proved useful as it was a bit of a guess as to which path to take through the mangroves at the very end of the trip otherwise!! Thanks to Andrew and Ria for getting up early on a Sunday morning to pilot us!!
We were dropped off at the little boat ramp and Andrew and Ria headed back for a days sailing while we organised ourselves to head off up roads, streams and bush tracks, over to Russell Road on the east coast. We very quickly came across several cattle on the first bit of gravel road - including 3 or four bulls - which were a bit skittish to say the least. Even with our best farming/animal skills we couldn't get around all of them with two of them launching themselves at a "sort-of" fence and charging back into a paddock!! There were a few good fences but mostly they varied from very dodgy to non-existent!
The road turned into a track briefly and at the end of this we got a little lost and had to do a short bit of bush-bashing for 10 minutes or so to get down to the stream-bed, as we knew we had a 4km "wet-feet" walk up the Papakauri Stream. Most of the 4km was in the water although there were occasional gravel/boulder banks to walk on (and have smoko on!) and we were generally able to mostly stick to gravelly footing which was easier than the occasional boulder patches, or the softer sandy patches. We also managed to avoid going through anything much above (my) knee height by careful route selection. It really was the most beautiful walk through the bush-lined stream - one of our favourite bits to date maybe - not sure that the photos will do it justice!
After the 4km up the Papakauri Stream, we hung a left onto the Russell Forest Track, mostly on a well-graded old forestry track, so the going was not too bad. Nice regenerating bush but, again, not many birds to be seen/heard - perhaps they were drowned out by the constant chirping of the cicadas, which was ever-present!
We eventually made it over onto Russell Road (asphalt) and headed south.
We decided that we would probably stop for the night at Oakura (Whangaruru Harbour). So we headed off-trail for 1.5km to find that the campsite mentioned in Oakura didn't exist anymore and that the other one in Whangaruru South was another 1.5km on. At this stage we stuck the thumb out and a a nice young chap in his BMW stopped and took us up and over a hill to the campsite!! A lovely spot to spend the night - with the cost of tent sites per person, we splashed out another $20 or so and got a cabin instead. We also met 3 Australian ladies of similar vintage to us (and older in one case) who were hiking parts of Te Araroa over a period of a few weeks. Turns out they are all experienced walkers/trampers - but more on them later, as we ended up crossing paths over the next few days!!
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Belinda and Anthony (aka Tony) Hadfield made a decision, in their late 50's, to do something a "bit different" and walk New Zealand's 3000km Te Araroa Trail over summer 2015/16 - although updates will now tell you that this plan will take longer now!!. As the old saying goes - "don't leave home 'til you've seen the country"!!