We kicked off about 0730 as we had around 35km to do. The days gps track is here. Of the 34.6km we ended up doing, 26km was on asphalt road, 2 km on gravel road, 4km through forest tracks and 2km up the estuary in muddy sand and mud!!
We had to head inland for about 10km around the top of the estuary as there is no bridge across it - then it was another 14km or so generally eastward back toward the coast before heading south-ish towards Pataua. We did around 13km of road walking before coming to the privately owned Mackerel Forest Track. This was much more "up and down" but was on reasonable forestry tracks so footing wasn't an issue. We knew there were a couple of creek crossings in this part so we had filled up with only our normal amount of water (2L for me and 1.5L for Belinda. It was another hot, humid day (over 30 degrees) so even B was sweating - and it was really pouring off me! The compounding effect of heat radiating from the asphalt makes it feel even hotter as the day goes on.
At one of the river crossings we again crossed paths with our Aussie friends, who had stayed at a different place to us last night and were hitching as much of the roads as possible (but were also planning to stay at Tidesong tonight). We charged through the forestry block and arrived at Pataua North Rd for another 13km of asphalt to get us to Pataua North.
The very first car that came past as we exited the forest kindly stopped and offered us a ride which we politely declined :-(. This is a windy rural road that is essentially a dead end as you cannot go anywhere from Pataua North (only a footbridge across the estuary to Pataua South) - and does not carry much traffic. So we were a little owrried that the Aussies might find it hard to get a ride. However, we stopped for lunch about 3.5km down the road and, sure enough, saw them all riding past in a car - although they didn't see us as we were in the shade on the other side of the road!!
So we set off for the trudge into Pataua North. Around smoko time I had to stop again as my insoles were again playing up in my right shoe. A tractor went past us and then backed back up to us to ask if we wanted to hop on the back (on his tine cultivator) and ride into Pataua North. Again we had to politely decline :-(. I doubt very much whether there is ever any traffic enforcement down the end of this road!!
Eventually arrived into Pataua North - lots of activity on the water there as it appears there was a school camp in operation. Lovely relatively quiet spot. Then it was across the longish Pataua River footbridge to Pataua South. From there it was about 2km on asphalt and metal roads to a reserve alongside the Taiharuru River estuary - where we headed out onto the sand/mud flats for a 2km walk up to Tidesong. The B&B is right near the point at which we have to cross the Taiharuru River to head south towards Ocean Beach and the Whangarei Heads.
Even at the start it was quite muddy (although shallow mud and was definitely a wet-feet walk whatever we did. As we got near Tidesong we were supposed to look for a gap in the mangroves and head up onto a road for a hort walk to the B&B. As a backstop, we knew they had a jetty out through the mangroves. I found this bit a pretty hard slog and was getting a bit grumpy, trying to make sure I didn't end up flat on my bum in the mud. In any event, we somehow missed the gap in the mangroves and ended up walking up to the jetty - almost calf deep in mud!! The Aussies saw us coming from the B&B (higher up the point) and shouted encouragement (at least I like to think it was encouragement!!).
Ros and Hugh Cole-Baker own Tidesong and Ros greeted us at the end of the jetty with a hose to clean ourselves off a bit. In doing this, Belinda leaned over and managed to drop the camera into the mud!! A quick scramble over the side of the jetty saw her knee deep in mud pulling the camera out. We gave it a low pressure wash to clean off the mud - am I glad I decided to go with a rugged camera (waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof)!! Its supposed to be able to take pics up to 15m underwater and it certainly doesn't seem to have suffered any ill effects from an unexpected mud-bath.
We then headed up one of the many paths to the house where Ros had a cup of tea and some cake waiting for us :-).
Ros and Hugh are superb hosts - absolutely lovely people with a beautiful spot - having been there around 20 years after selling up the farm. The gardens are great, with paths everywhere as well as a boardwalk network through the mangroves at the waters edge.
Ros has walked and cycled Te Araroa herself in support of the Kidney Society (Northland Age story here), so they really have a feel for what TA hikers are about.
The Aussies were in one of the cabins and B and I had a room upstairs with two beds in it. They also have a lovely B&B attached to the house as additional accommodation. They are also happy to let TA campers pitch a tent at no charge.
We had planned to hitch into Whangarei tomorrow and stay the night there, as Andrew and Ria are picking us up on Saturday morning so that we can all head back for Jean's (B and Ria's mum) 88th b'day. B also has some qigong seminars to attend, so we will be at home for about 10 days before heading back up to Tidesong to finish off the walk to the end of Whangarei Heads. In any event, Hugh said he and Ros were heading over to Kai Iwi Lakes tomorrow afternoon and kindly offered to drop us off in Whangarei. We were in no hurry so gratefully accepted.
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"!!