Te Araroa: Day 13-15
Day 13: Ngunguru to Ocean Beach (30km) Two major estuaries had to be crossed that day. According to James' briefing I left camp just before 8 am and got to the first estuary at its low tide.
On the way to the estuary i had - once again - an unfriendly bird encounter. I didn't really pay a lot of attention to the local oystercatchers, but when I got to the beach they got really loud and didn't back off. Within minutes I was basically surrounded by four birds, which came closer and closer with every step I made. Suddenly two birds even started flying straight for my head. I ducked away, used my trekking poles to shoo them away and quickly left that place. Guess I got really close to a nest.
Thanks to James briefing, the perfect timing and helpful markers both crossings were very easy and safe. The water was knee-deep and not that wide.
In the middle of the estuary
Upon leaving the second estuary I had to cross an ankle deep mud field that really stunk. These crossings were followed by some roadwalking and farmland where - as clumsy as I am - managed to stumble into an electric fence. Nice wakeup call for the day.
The day ended with yet another 6km beach walk to a private campsite just before the start of the Bream Head Track. I set up camp in the early afternoon and spent the rest of the day eating various ready meals until it started to rain. From the safety of my tent I watched a thunderstorm in the mountains just a mere 1km from my place.
Not everyone likes hikers ;-)
... Thunderstorm gone
Day 14: Ocean Beach to Ruakake (25km) I heard about epic sunrises at the old WW2 radar station on the mountain, so I got up just past 5 am, broke camp and headed straight for the mountain.
Sunrise was scheduled for 5:45 am, and well...I was ready, the sun wasn't. It was an overall cloudy day and I didn't get the views I was hoping for.
Yet again, it was another really steep climb with a sheer unlimited amount of stairs, but the track remained in the forest for most of it's time, so that I didn't see much of the surrounding countryside.
Nevertheless it felt good to climb that mountain and my ankle and joints didn't give up on me, even though my left ankle was still in some pain.
It took about 3.5 hours to hike some 7km over those mountains and to reach Urquhart's Bay.
Another 1.5 hrs of roadwalk later, I arrived at Reotahi Bay, called Peter to get a boat ride to Marsden Point and had a lovely chat with him. From Marsden Point it was yet another 5km beachwalk to the town centre of Ruakake.
I topped up my supplies and had a nice burger at the local cafe, before roadwalking another 4km to the Ruakake Holiday Park. While I was hiking it started to rain again, but being only about 1km from the holiday park I didn't bother putting my rain gear on - as it usually takes longer to put rain gear on, than the rain lasts.
Well...not this time. It started raining cats and dogs and I got soaked, put my rain gear on and quickly hiked to the Campground. Upon arriving there, a lightning hit one of the power poles just 5m next to me. That day, I chose to stay in a cabin :-)
I even bought some ice to cool my swollen ankle.
Day 15: Ruakake to Mangawhei Heads (40km) Once again there was a 6km beachwalk on my way to Waipu, where I stopped for breakfast. I left Waipu around 9 am and started roadwalking. Some 2km later a nice kiwi couple picked me up and gave me a ride over 7km to Cullen Road, where I hiked another 5-6km on a road before a tramping track finally started. After 25km I heard two hikers speaking German and when they got out of the way for me, I thanked them using their names "Sven and Leonie", which I knew from some registers at Sue's and Al's place, as well as the Holiday Park in Whananaki. Peter - the guy who gave me a boat ride to Marsden Point the day before - also mentioned a german couple from Mannheim. Well, Sven and Leonie were quite surprised and we ended up chatting for a while until I hiked on.
Overall it was a pretty boring day until I got to the Mangawhei cliffwalk.
That 1-1.5 hr walk offered some really nice views before getting to town. I camped in the Mangawhei Heads Holiday Park, which was really nice and just 10 minutes from the town centre.
The town centre had an indian restaurant, a takeaway shop a small 4 square supermarket and a pizzeria. I went to the pizzeria, but due to a recent power outage they couldn't serve any pizzas, so I had a big salad, some fries and a beer for 35 NZD (!!). I finished my meal, went home and cried ;-)