Sorry it has taken a while to update. A combination of limited time, weariness and a misbehaving editing app on the phone has meant we are now at Ria and Andrew's in Opua (Thurs 18/2) and I am taking the opportunity to use the real computer!! As my dear sister pointed out, I have also been slack at updating the BuddyBeacon (as I don't want to leave it automatically reporting hourly - battery hog!) - I'll have to try harder in the memory department. Anyway, on with the journey :-).
After a very pleasant day of rest, it was on the road again at 0800. Today's Suunto gps track can be found here. Says we did 14.1 km - sounds not much but, believe me, it felt like a lot by the time we emerged onto Matakana Valley Rd and then onto Govan Wilson Rd later in the day!!
We did about 3kms to Pakiri Hall on mainly gravel road, then it was a long steady climb for about 2.5km up through ungrazed farmland. In places we followed a reasonably well worn TA track through the kikuyu which was ok - a few times we were wading through longer kikuyu, which is not so much fun!
We then headed alongside some forestry on grassland and upwards into the Omaha forest, eventually looking to reach the 437m peak of Tamahunga. This was a pleasant hike, but mostly a real tramping standard with heaps of up and down, unformed tracks with lots of tree roots etc. There were the occasional bits of better formed track thrown in for relief! On the way we walked under a weather satellite station - sort of in the middle of nowhere!
We were very fortunate that it hadn't rained much as some of it would have been very dodgy if wetter. Even so, parts were very slippery so we had to be careful. Unfortunately, I wasn't careful enough and had one slip, landing square in a tree root on my left bum. Very sore - a day later it broke out in a dinner plate sized bruise - still sore 6 days later!
The old track used to head south from Tamahunga onto Omaha Valley Rd, but last year they put in a new track from Tamahunga west across to Matakana Valley Rd. This track is again tramping standard but was also very narrow, with gorse and a bit of blackberry closing in on lots of it. Also very slippery in many places. Even with bare legs and arms we just got used to pushing through the gorse and ignoring scratches etc - there was really nothing else for it!
We did discover later that they intend to do some upgrade work before next season on this part of the track, which should make some of the going a little easier.
Towards the end of this section we met Evan, a NZ-resident American. He was northbound - we chatted for 10 minutes or so, and he mentioned a trail angel on Govan Wilson who took weary hikers in - we kept this in mind for later as we had originally planned to continue on towards Dome Valley and find somewhere to camp in the bush.
Anyway, we finally emerged into Matakana Valley Rd around 1500 from memory. We were pretty knackered at this stage so carried on another 800m out so just into G W Rd and had a snack break on the side of the road. At this stage I also confirmed the trail angel's address. Her name is Mandy and we found we had about another 2.5 km to walk up G W Rd to get there. At this stage we had decided a stop there would be great!
Reached there about 1600 or so to be greeted by a couple of young French film-makers from Paris, who were woofering there. Mandy was out so they fed us cold water on the deck until Mandy came home. We pitched the tent on the lawn and had access to Mandy's facilities - so, again, we got a shower! Perhaps I should mention at this stage that the weather has been very warm so far, so you can probably imagine how much sweating is going on!!
We had a lovely stay at Mandy's - including meeting Barry (easy name to remember for us!) the labradoodle! She has lovely grounds, including a soundstage at the bottom of the garden for occasional concerts - the place is also known as Music Mountain. Big thanks to Mandy!
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"!!