We got away at 0800 and ended up at our destination at around 1430 - so a very relaxing day again (as planned!!). Even though the gps track (here) shows 11.5km, we actually did closer to 15km (one technical glitch and one of me forgetting to restart the watch after a break!!). We were quickly into the Matapouri Bush Track which was mainly nice grass and clay track walking through pasture, regenerating bush and also partly through newly harvested mixed pine/eucalypt forestry.
In the middle of this, the track went through a bit of DoC reserve. Included in this reserve is Tane Moana - a very large kauri tree. While not as large as Tane Mahuta, it is certainly still an impressive specimen. We crossed paths with the Aussies here again as we all had a break to look and have some smoko.
The next few kms was again a mix of bush and forestry with a little pasture, before joining a road for the 3km walk into Ngunguru.
Arriving in Ngunguru, I did a quick Google and found they had a cafe. We decided to stop at the Salt Air Cafe for some nice lunch instead of our usual fare!! We both ended up with Eggs Florentine with bacon and, boy, was it delicious!! You seriously never know quite what to expect in different cafes but this was top notch. B's gluten-free bread was baked on the premises and was fantastic. So, if anyone is in Ngunguru, don't hesitate to drop by the Salt Air Cafe and give it a try!
That took some time as we were not in any kind of hurry today. Then it was back on the road to cover the 2.5km or so to Riverbank Homestay (website or TripAdvisor), just outside Ngunguru. This is owned by Hilton and Melva Ward who are very active in the TA community and maintain parts of the local TA track. They offer a tent site in their garden for TA walkers for koha and a large number of hikers have camped there overnight this past season (we are obviously at the tail end for this season!).
Melva was away but Hilton got us set up - we had a shower under the garden hose (hot day so rather refreshing) and, after setting up the tent, eventually joined Hilton on their deck. We nibbled our small dinner (as we had had a lovely cafe lunch!!), with some home-made ginger beer, and then went for a walk through Hilton and Melva's wetland area around 1900 to see if we could spot some fernbirds which, thanks to Hilton's advice, we did manage. They have developed a boardwalk through the wetland and allow the public to use it - it also allows people to access an adjacent DoC reserve. They have spent a number of years sailing the wider Pacific so there were lots of interesting photos and fascinating stories!!
If you ever want anywhere to stay in this area I would thoroughly recommend stopping here - see the links above to see how good others think these guys are!!
We weren't sure quite how far we might get tomorrow but, after discussion with Hilton, he said we would have no trouble getting to Pataua and on to Tidesong B&B if we wanted to (35km or so), as the walk was mostly road and with not too much up and down. So we settled on that plan and headed off to bed in the tent around 2100 to psych ourselves up for a lot of asphalt road walking tomorrow :-).
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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"!!