Day 16: Mangawhei Heads to Pakiri Beach (28km)
For today, the last major beachwalk was scheduled. After an easy 4-5km hike from Mangawhei Heads to Mangawhei I briefly stopped for an bacon & egg breakfast and at the local 4 square supermarket to get some ice-spray for my injured ankle. It took another 7km on a gravel road until I finally got to the beach.
From here on it was 16km along the beach to the Pakiri Beach Holiday Park.
It was a really hot day and the beach didn't provide any shade. Luckily I just bought some new SPF 50 sun blocker at the supermarket to protect myself.
I spent some time shooting videos with my tripod and finished that 28km section at about 3pm in the afternoon. The Pakiri Beach Holiday Park was surprisingly nice and offered a great lounge/tv room, as well as a games room.
Unfortunately I was the only hiker at that place, until the Sven and Leonie (german couple) arrived later that day. In the evening I ended up talking to a maori guy, who lived in the park to work on a nearby farm. He seemed to have had a troubled life so far, as he just got out of prison. We enjoyed some "relaxing herbs" ;-) and watched local TV-channels.
Day 17: Pakiri Beach to Sheepworld (27km) Pakiri Beach was probably the best Holiday Park so far and I was thinking about having a zero day here, but the lack of any stores or shops convinced me to hike on.
I knew that this day would be tougher than the ones before, but didn't expect to be knackered as hell by the end of it.
It started really nice, with a gentle ascent and really nice views, but than turned into a steep tramping track with thorns all over the place.
The trail continued up and down over several hours and even a trail sign said that this section was only for hikers with moderate to high fitness and good footwear. I still enjoyed the hike, especially with all those sunrays breaking through the canopy, but I was so focused not to fall over one of those many roots and mud holes, that I almost forgot to take pictures.
It was a challenging day and I was happy to reach the road after just 26km, from where I hiked another 2km downhill to a Caravan Park and Sheepfarm that offered shows for tourists.
Day 18: Sheepworld to Orewa
A big day. 46 official Trailkilometers plus another 2 very steep kilometers from my campsite at Sheepworld back to the trail. The day therefore started with a total of 4km uphill, where I passed a really nice campsite at kilometer 490.7, which I recommend to Alex and Callum. P
The trail was easy and gentle and allowed a fast hiking space. Unfortunately some of the trail markers were hard to spot and so I missed a turn and followed the wrong road for some 20minutes.
I made it to Puhoi by 1pm and due to low tide, taking a kayak to Wenderholm wasn't an option.
The local cafe served a really nice burger and with that I started upon that weird 6.5km hike along the highway/ interstate to Waiwera.
Luckily there was a construction site which slowed down cars and provided some protection for me, as cars were passing me with 80km/h on a very narrow shoulder. In Waiwera I briefly stopped again to refill my water supplies and realized that the next section was only doable at low tide.
Unfortunately low tide had passed 2 hrs ago and so I had to be swift to pass that section before it would become impassable. It started really easy with some rock hopping, great views and nice beaches, but got quite tricky in the end.
After 2/3rds of that section I regularly had to get into already knee- to waist-deep water.
Nevertheless it was great fun and a mix of rock-hopping, scrambling and river-walking. Even a local kayaker showed up and offered help, but I assured him that I was fine.
In the end my learning from the PCT proofed to be true again. It's sometimes better just to get in the water and accept getting wet, instead of trying even sketchier climbs that could result in a really bad fall, and here the water was actually really nice and warm. It took roughly 1.5 hrs to finish this awesome section, before I got into Orewa for another 4-5km roadwalk.
In the end I probably hiked 41-42km that day, as the highway-route was a little bit shorter, than the official kayaking-route.
Day 19: Zero Day Orewa (0km)
Orewa was a lovely town with a lot of eateries and supermarkets. The local Holiday Park was pretty busy and loud due to a nearby road, but that didn't bother me. At night I usually listen to some audiobooks until I fall asleep. It's a great way of ending the day, but it has one major downside. When falling asleep I regularly miss important sections of the book and than wake up to huge spoilers. This time I woke up with the audiobook still running, learning that the wife of the main character was killed...and I didn't know how and when... The rest of the day I spent taking care of my injured foot, as I had finally lost my toenail which got damaged during one of my last karate training sessions.
Thanks Friedrich! ;-) Later that day, the German couple Sven and Leonie, as well as Alex and Callum and Roberto (Italy) and a Kiwi guy arrived at the Campground. It was great catching up with them again. (have to write that, just in case they're reading my blog ;-))
Day 20: Orewa to Browns Bay (28km)
Roads, Roads, Roads for 14 consecutive kilometres. It sucked. Again. I passed Stillwater at 11 am, barely 2.5 hours after starting that day.
That's 5.5 km/h, pretty good pace, but also darn useless as the predicted low tide for the upcoming river was at 3pm. I got to the river just after noon and had a little nap under some trees until Alex and Callum arrived.
At 1 pm three Kiwis showed up and went straight for the river. We were quite surprised as it looked like they had already crossed within minutes, even though my data sheet stated a depth of more than 1.15m at that time. We followed these guys and quickly realized that they hadn't crossed. We got tricked by the sandbank which blocked our vision of the real estuary. One of the Kiwi guy's had build a raft for his backpack and swam to the other side.
Minutes later he swam back to hand over his raft, but we decided to wait for low tide. I tested the water several times at different locations and ended up swimming as most places were too deep to cross. At 2:30 pm we were 8 people at the estuary as a boat showed up. 6 of us took the boat, but me and Callum continued looked for a spot to make the crossing. While swimming in the estuary I found a place that was just chest deep and fordable. So Callum and I got our backpacks, lifted them over our heads and went once again into the water.
(I am the right one)
Just minutes later we had successfully crossed the estuary without any help and we were proud of that achievement :-) We hiked another few kilometres into Torbay, where we parted. Callum left for some family friends, me and Alex continued towards Browns Bay.
From here to Hamilton its mostly roadwalk so we took a bus to Auckland. Tomorrow I'll take another bus to Hamilton, 180 Trailkilometers further south.