We left at 0730, just after sunrise, as the suggested time for today was 8 hours and we wanted to get to Kerikeri in time to try and hitch to Opua for the night. While TA said the journey was 24km, the Suunto calculated over 25km - gps track is here. The hike today looked to be a mixture of roads, Landcorp farm, and riverside walking - with not many hills (yahoo!) so we weren't expecting a tough day.
The day started with a 3km gravel road walk to get to the first section of Landcorp farm. It was nice to be crossing some farmland where things were clearly very well run and money was being spent - including races for us to walk in in places. These included an electric wire - nominally to keep the cattle from sticking there heads through, but maybe also to encourage walkers to keep in their lanes??!! We were walking across paddocks, including with stock in them. Many of the paddocks were in alternative species such as hickory, or remnants of feed crops (chou, or at least some form of brassica). It was surprisingly hard to spot the next orange marker at times and I took to wearing the binoculars under my raincoat for constant checks as to the next direction to take!
Out of this stretch of farm, it was onto another gravel road for 5km. Yet again, a nice lady stopped and asked us if we wanted a ride to the next part of the farm track - apparently we weren't the first to politely decline the kind offer!! I'm sure she will find someone to take her up on the offer sometime!
Back into the Landcorp farm and it was more of the same - as described in the first bit. Towards the end we dropped down a hill (eaten out brassica crop, with lots of pig rooting in evidence) into a short stretch of scrubby bush to get us onto the walk alongside the Maungaparerua Stream.
We followed this Maungaparerua Stream for about 1.5km before it met with the Kerikeri River (which we basically followed all the way to the Stone Store).
Once on the Kerikeri River we eventually walked across a swing bridge and under SH10 following a roughish riverside track for a while - before it turned into a much nicer mown riverside track.
After about 3km of this, we were onto the Kerikeri River Track itself for the last 6.5km. This is a lovely bush track, well formed, that takes you past, among other things the 27m high Rainbow Falls.
It eventually pops out across from Kemp House / Stone Store, where you take the newish footbridge across the river. We worked our way across to the Stone Store where we had a quiet celebration at having finished the Cape Reinga to Auckland Central section (officially 595km for TA, but more in actuality). Belinda celebrated by buying some sweets for us at the Stone Store. The lady in the shop also gave her a chunk of cardboard and lent a marker pen for her to make up an "Opua" sign for our hitching attempt!!
Eventually we set off up the hill to the township (very hard to hitch up here as the path is on the wrong side of the road. We stopped in town for some McD fries and some diet coke before heading out to the west side of town to put out the sign. Of course, quite a few cars drove on past but, in less than five minutes after setting up on the side of the road, a nice young (in his 30s anyway!!) chap stopped and said he was going to Paihia. Logan was originally going to be boating but, because of the weather, decided to work for the day - lucky for us!! Once we were at Paihia he offered to take the extra few kms to Oromahoe Rd, so we only had the familiar km or so up the road to Andrew and Ria's. We knew neither of them was home today so we made ourselves at home (thanks guys!) in our "home away from home".
While there is still a long way to go, it was a nice feeling to have knocked a decent chunk of the TA off! Now we'll see how far south we make it before the weather or our bodies decide that its the end of this season for us.
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"!!