In the past 8 days we hiked from Paihia to Waipu and covered 180,4 kilometres on the Te Araroa Trail.
Total TA kilometres: 427,5
Philippe: Trail Magic & white sandy beaches
Nadine: Trail Magic 😀
Philippe: blister causing road walking
Nadine: feeling like I’m getting fried on the road
Please note: The stated kilometres are approximate. The hiking times are pure walking times, without breaks. On average we take 1,5 – 2 hours breaks during the day. The smiley’s describe our mental, the muscle arm our physical state. 10/10 is the best.
You find our actual pictures from the trail on Instagram.
Day 13: Paihia (Zero Day)
The zero day was really necessary. Not only because of our feet and inflamed tendons. We feasted on fresh food and I finally could read for several hours – The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s books were very important to me when I was a teenager. And as we are hiking in New Zealand, where the movies were filmed, I thought it would be be time to start reading them again. I guess it’s the sixth time I read Lord of the Rings.
We also met some other Te Araroa hikers. An Aussi woman, who came directly to Paihia after the muddy Raetea forest and Barnabé, a French guy we had met on the trail and whom we’d lost again after the Puketi forest.
Apparently, there were many Te Araroa hikers who skipped the Omahuta/Puketi forest or even Kerikeri. Obviously, they didn’t like the New Zealand mud.
Therefore, we can be proud of ourselves. 😉
The hikers chitchat was great. And the availability of an electric kettle as well… 😀
Since we did our resupply, the laundry and the biggest part of our blog work yesterday, we had a really relaxing zero day. In the afternoon we meandered into town to get some icecream and a postcard.
Apart from that we stayed in the hostel, relaxed, got small things done and enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere. In the evening Barnabé joined us, a French guy we had met before the Raetea and in the Omahuta Forest.
With him and an Australian woman we lamented about the sections im the forests. Apparently, quite a few Te Araroa hikers decided to skip the forests after Raetea (aka The Land of Mud) and organised rides to Kerikeri or even Paihia. So from the viewpoint of a purist, we’re still “in the game”. 😊
And I’m proud that we made it through the sections of 90 Mile Beach and the Northland forests rather successfully. We passed the “admission exam”. 😉
Day 14: Paihia to Waikare (via Okaito)
24,8 kilometres, 5h35min
Today we’d started with Barnabé and after some kilometres Anneli from Estonia (she’s been living in NZ for four years) joined us. We took the vehicle ferry (1$) to Okaito and walked the 17km to Waikare, where the actual start of the Te Araroa was. We saved the 100$ for the water taxi for better things. We hitched about 1 kilometre, and walked the rest on metal and gravel roads. The group spread out after a while but joined from time to time. The last kilometres we walked together.
Our planned campspot was already occupied by a bunch of cows but there was a Maori driving by and he invited us to camp on his lawn. He was used to Te Araroa hikers – he had four others at his place the night before. So then, we camped in front of his house, talked a bit and just enjoyed the early end of the hiking (and day). The get-together with the small Te Araroa group was very interesting because we finally had the time to talk for longer, to exchange experiences and information about the Te Araroa and tell our own life stories.
Man, what one does to save some money. To not being dependant on a chartered water taxi (up to 100$), we made a detour of the Te Araroa with a regular vehicular ferry (1$ p.P.) and 17 kilometres on foot. Even though we did have a short ride, we were otherwise unsuccessful with hitchhiking and had to walk along the street.
Throughout the day we walked several times with Barnabé and an Estonian, Anneli, which was an enjoayble change for us and made the otherwise dull day a bit more exciting.
A campspot was offered to the four of us by a Maori in the end of the day. A nice flat area incl. A drop toilet and a stream nearby.
Tomorrow we’re going to have to cross a river early on, so I’ll try to appreciate my now dry feet as much as I can.
Day 15: Waikare to Teal Bay
25,5 kilometres (inkl. 2km detour), 6h30min
Here we go again. Today, wading in the river was on the program again. And it actually was the nicest part of the hiking day. The vegetation, the light, the sounds. It was perfect. The 3-4 kilometres in the river made us reconsider our choice of second footware (thongs). Maybe we’ll soon change to something more comfortable and also suitable for rivers. The rest was forest road and normal traffic road. Not very interesting and very destructable for the feet.
In Teal Bay we just wanted to ask for water but suddenly we were invited for tea by Catherine, who even organised a nice campspot for us. The other half of the group came later and as we were setting up camp another neighbour gave us four cans of beer. And not some from New Zealand. No, they were from Austria and Germany. And the best was: one was Gösser beer. A brand of the home region of my grandparents from Austria. Wtf!
The 4 kilometres in the stream were surprisingly enjoyable, despite the wet feet. It was sunny but the air in the forest stayed cool and fresh, even the water wasn’t too cold. So I didn’t mind that the water came up to my thighs at times.
After the stream it was mostly walking on roads, and it got hotter by the minute.
We were often fully exposed to the sun and the hard tarmac made my feet sore and steaming. Thus, we were plodding along, a bit distracted by podcasts but still well aware of the heat and the sore feet (the reason for our detour -> we missed a turn)…
And suddenly I found myself sitting in the cool shade on a veranda, drinking tea, eating cookies and chatting with one of 12 permanent residents of Teal Bay. She showed us a grassy spot to pitch our tent, the water tap, toilet and (hot) outdoor shower. It was heavenly and just what I needed.
Day 16: Teal Bay to Matapouri
32 kilometres, 8h15min
Slowly we’re getting spoilt. After a long day (29km GPS, 32km maps) we asked for water in Matapouri, so that we could sleep on the beach. But instead Maggie invited us to camp, to dinner and later breakfast! The hospitality of the Kiwis is overwhelming sometimes.
We started this morning in Teal Bay and walked on gravel roads until we reached the Morepork Track, which was really tough on our legs because of the many ups and downs. After that we more or less hiked along the coast.
The Whanananki Coastal Track was one of the nost beautiful sections so far. White beaches with turquoise water were framed by small bays. Sadly though, most of the little beaches were private property.
We also got a foretaste of the summer. The sun burnt down on our heads pittylessly and made the road walking a torture.
Today we came through some of the nicest parts of the Northland. Not only regarding the scenery, but also the people that live here. Yes, we were downright spoilt.
After breakfast we got fresh apples and oranges from our “neighbour”, and started a section that would offer is numerous outlooks on the diverse coastline and pristine (sadly mostly private) beaches. Blue sky, green fields, white beaches, turquoise water. A little paradise.
We ended our day in Matapouri, a small village on the coast. I treated myself with some icecream from the small shop, before we began our search of water and a place to pitch our tent.
Most houses were uninhabited, high season hasn’t begun yet. We tried our luck at a cottage with a happily wagging fog in the front yard and asked for water. Maggie was happy to help and even offered us to camp in her front yard. We were thankful for this opportunity and couldn’t grasp our luck when she also offered us a hot shower, laundry and later even dinner and breakfast. The hospitality of some people here is incredible and our gratefulness is immeasurable.
Day 17: Matapouri to somewhere after Mackerel Forest
30,5 kilometres, 7h
Today was “Trail Magic”-day. Maggie, our Trail Angel, served us poached eggs on toast and fruits for breakfast. What a start!
12 kilometres later in Ngunguru there was the famous Te Araroa microwave oven waiting for us. A former Te Araroa thru-hiker set up a microwave (in New Zealand also often used as letter box) in her garden. There was a guest book and some tupperwares with things like sweets, hygiene articles and other possibly helpful stuff for a Te Araroa hiker. Trail Magic par excellence.
The day was long again (32km) and claimed another blister. After Ngunguru we tackled the heavy traffic road until the last bit on a hilly forest track together with Anneli. We set up our camp on a paddock of a sheep farmer.
We encountered a different kind of Trail Magic today. In Ngunguru a previous Te Araroa hiker installed a microwave oven along the trail where she and other residents leave small presents and treats for Te Araroa hikers. The microwave was stuffed with apples and oranges, sweets and bars, but also useful things like toilet paper, sanitizer or mosquito spray. Small things that can make a long-distance hiker very happy. 😉
Otherwise we mostly walked on tarmac roads today. For a looong time. Cars passed us with 100km/h and rarely slowed down or swerved. That’s extremely tiring and a bit dangerous too, but so far we don’t want to skip roadwalking with hitchhiking.
Day 18: somewhere after Mackerel Forest to Ocean Beach
~30 kilometres, 5h50min
The sun cooked my brain like a soft egg and my feet felt like bacon in a frying pan. Most of the route was on the road again. And we had to make a detour (mostly with hitchhiking) because of the late low tide (4p.m.) and missed the short section along mangrove forests. But we got rewarded with the walk on the Ocean Beach afterwards; so far the best beach on the Te Araroa.
In the small place at the end of the Ocean Beach we stopped early. We wanted to attack the next section – Bream Head Track – with rested feet.
The night was cold, the day was hot and today’s hike was arduous and lenthy. At 3p.m. we called it a day. We’ve been walking far and were exposed to the sun all day. The next 7 kilometres are supposed to be steep and challenging, so we’ll save that for tomorrow. I hope my feet and legs will be up to it by then. Good night.
Day 19: Ocean Beach to Uretiti Beach Campsite
28,6 kilometres, 7h40min
What a start for an early morning. 850m ascent and 750m descent on the first 6,5 kilometres. The calfs and thighs burnt like hell. And this around 7a.m.. I devoutly wished for a book and a soft bed. Luckily, the outlooks on Mt. Te Whara und Mt. Lion were worth the hassle. We could see all of Ocean Beach and Kauri Mountain as well as the kilometres (on the beach) ahead of us.
The boat ride across Whangarei Harbour to Marsden Point was easier to get than expected and in no time. Each of us had to pay 20$ to cross the one kilometre between us and the next trailhead. A bit expensive but we were happy that it worked out so quickly.
After that we walked alomg the beach (hurray 😑) fforded a river and finally camped at Uretiti Beach Campsite. For tonight the forecast says rain.
More than 800m up- and 750m downhill. And all of that in the early morning! Once we were up an ready we started sweating at 7 a.m.. Two “calf burners” were to conquer. Regarding the endurance I found it one of the toughest parts so far. At least it was all over after 6,5 kilometres and the views from the mountain tops were fantastic. 😉
The early end of yesterday’s hike had definitely been a good decision. I would have mastered the steep ups and downs (switchbacks seem to be unheard of in New Zealand) with great effort and pain only yesterday.
For once I even was happy about walking on the beach for today’s last 10 kilometres. Because it meant level and not up and down… 😉
Day 20: Uretiti Beach Campsite to Waipu (Nero Day)
7 kilometres, 1h20min
The day was shorter than planned. In pouring rain we walked the 7 kilometres to Waipu. As the water wetted my buttocks we stood in front of the Four Square Shop. A few snacks landed in the shopping cart; the rest we wanted to buy in Manghawai.
Yesterday, Anneli obviously walked to Waipu and was staying another day. The rain kept on and my motivation felt like as the sky was gray. How much does a room in a budget backpacker cost? The winner was the shabby but clean Waipu Hotel. Double room plus breakfast (we were so early that we could eat the one of today too) for 60$. Quite okay. Well, our planned Nero Day in Mangawhai was needed a bit sooner.
In the night the announced rain came. We packed our wet tent in the rain and started walking. Soon, we reached Waipu, where we wanted to resupply. We checked the weather forecast: rain. All day. We checked the hotel/hostel prices. Yepp, we’ll have a “Nero Day” (Nearly Zero Day). A double room was found quickly and we’ll stay inside today. Nope, no more rain for us. 😉
We’ve even got some movies on the tablet and lots of books to read. It’s going to be a cushy rainy day.
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