In the past 5 days we hiked from Waipu to Auckland and covered 153.5 kilometres on the Te Araroa Trail.
Total TA kilometres: 602 kilometres according to maps
Philippe: standing on the summit of Mt. Tamahunga
Nadine: Seeing the Skyline of Auckland from Devonport
Philippe: Rainy morning in the Dome Forest
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 21: Waipu to Mangawhai Village
39 kilometres, 8h
It was a long day. It was so long that we couldn’t write our journals. 39 kilometres. A bit longer than expected. But the walking was pretty good until the last kilometre, when the monotonous road walking caused a bunch of new blisters. Yeah! The prettiest sections were along the coast to Mangawhai Heads. I prefer the perfect beaches of New Zealand from a higher perspective 😉
Perspectively seen it was also a day of architecture. The building regulations are not as strict as in Switzerland and so the architects can work more freely. And you can see it. Although most of the houses were holiday homes – in New Zealand you have got a second house at the beach – they weren’t less spectacular. One of the many insights into the Kiwi culture on the Te Araroa, which compensates for the road walking.
When our feet didn’t want to carry us any longer we asked for water. Instead of that we were invited for dinner and staying the night. Wow!
The sun was out again and I felt rejuvenated from the night in the double room. Only my calves still felt as if someone implanted me some stones.
At lunchtime we’d already walked more than 20 kilometres. The track was relatively easy and our backpacks light. But in Mangawhai we bought food for the next five days and suddenly I felt my tired feet and stiff legs. Still, we wanted to walk a little farther, because we wanted to spare the money for a campground and wanted to freedom camp.
So at one of the last houses before a long stretch along the beach we went to ask for water. And again we were offered so much more. We spent the night in a cottage that was under renovation (another night in a bed 😁) and were even invited to dinner. It makes me incredibly happy to experience how much people are willing to give without asking for anything in return.
Day 22: Mangawhai Village to Govan Wilson Road (before Dome Forest)
32 kilometres, 8h15min
It wasn’t really my day. I felt the kilometres from yesterday, the blisters gleamed in deep red and the muscles were stiff because there was no time for stretching in the evening.
17 kilometres on the beach incl. three stream crossings. And always the tides in mind. Shortly before the last stream it was high time to get away from sand and water. Hiking in powdery sand and crossing streams at high tide aren’t much fun.
Afterwards, it got exhausting on the way up to Mt. Tamahunga (435m). A neat ascent, steep, root paths and lots of bush. Not fun if it’s raining. Surely, we survived and on the Govan Wilson Road the gravel stated again. At the sixth house we got water after a long stretch without water. And it didn’t take long when we reached a house where we saw Anneli working in the garden on a cement mixer. Indeed, it was a strange sight. She’s just got too much energy.
We camped there too, had a beer (so much beer on the Te Araroa) and a nice chat with Mandy, who invites Te Araroa hikers to stay on her property. This year we were her first hikers, though.
Could we take a break? I heard myself asking this question a couple of times today. My energy level was low and my feet started hurting after a couple of kilometres already. Presumably because of the far distance yesterday, the heavy backpack and hard beach walking.
The ups and downs in the afternoon seemed endless and we had to knock on the doors of several houses before someone was home and could give us water. Luckily, after 32 kilometres we found a house in which garden we could camp. I wouldn’t have been able to walk much farther.
Day 23: Govan Wilson Road (before Dome Forest) to J. Tolhopf Road (before Puhoi)
31,5 kilometres, 8h45min
Rain + Forest + New Zealand = Miserable start in the morning. The Dome Forest was a slippery and a bit muddy affair. The only ray of hope (or aim) was the Dome Café. Every Te Araroa hiker knows it. And it was really good. Hot drinks and a big portion of chips (+ the normal lunch). It not only warmed our limbs but also our heart.
My energy level was very low. I assume that I’m functioning much like Super Mario. When I eat a muesli bar (Mario: a star), I have the power for the next few kilometres. But then the energy decreases rapidly (or in Mario’s case: he loses the effect of the star) and I need a new supply (or star 😉). And at some point a handful of nut mix isn’t enough anymore.
Anyway, We were really happy when we could set up our tent on a farmers place a few kilometres before Puhoi.
My motivation is water-soluble. And it started raining just as we wanted to start in the morning. All morning I tried to keep my self-pity and limpness in check by concentrating on what would await us after the Dome Forest: the Top of the Dome Café and Teahouse.
“One hot chocolate, please.” Exactly the right thing after a rainy muddy morning in the wooded hills. Motivation: +4 points.
The rest of the day was less arduous, but still brought some rain showers. And what would you wish for after such a day? Exactly, a hot shower. And that’s exactly what we got. Halleluja!
Day 24: J. Tolhopf Rd. (before Puhoi) to Silverdale
20 kilometres, 4h20min
What a start! Greg (the sheep farmer) invited us for breakfast! Hot buns, cheese, tea. Much better than our porridge, although it’s not bad either. Therefore, our start was later. The faithful Christian even prayed for us. After the rain the way to Puhoi was wet and after that we had to walk on the highway and main road. It was annoying and dangerous. Really no fun. In Waiwera we hitched for 5 kilometres because of the tide and because the street didn’t seem to be wide enough for hikers.
In Orewa we walked on and met a Polish Te Araroa hiker and of course Anneli. She walked much further than we did yesterday.
We got a lift from Rebekah in Silverdale. Our Trail Angel walked the Te Araroa on the North Island last year. And in the end of December she and her boyfriend Jonathan start the on the South Island. They met on the trail last year and are now a couple. Trail love! We celebrated the early end of the walking day with wine and good food.
“Good morning, I’ve got breakfast for you.” What a nice thing to read in the early morning. Because of the breakfast we had a late start, but it was totally worth it (hot buns, hmmm 🙂 ).
We also were naughty today and skipped some kilometres on a road by hitchhiking. Buuuh, I know. But following the actual route required low tide (which was over) and the alternative was walking on a winding road with road works and little to no space for pedestrians. So yes, we’re no longer purists. But it seemed to be the safer and vastly more enjoyable option.
We spend the night with a former Te Araroa hiker, her partner and mother. Just now I can smell the curry that’s being cooked… Spoilt, spoilt!
Day 25: Long Bay to Auckland
31 kilometres, 6h30min
Rebekah took us with her to Long Bay, where she works as an Outdoor Education Instructor. That means that we skipped some kilometres in Stillwater including the infamous Okura river crossing. Rebekah said, the crossing would be no fun even at low tide and the water would reach the hips/waist. From the text messages of Anneli: “most extreme” and “will always remember this part”. We weren’t unhappy about our decision.
The route led more or less along the coast of Takapuna and Northshore. The closer we got to Auckland, the bigger and more pompous the mansions got. Sometimes it was just ridiculous to see what had been built with money, megalomania and self-staging intent. But I always tell myself: It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a lot of money, you’re not happier because of that. The joy you might feel because of your new house/castle will probably last no longer than three months and then you’re in the same mood like before. It’s always the same with stuff you buy. Therefore, I liked the lovely wooden houses from the beginning of the 20th century in Northshore much more.
Because it had been raining all day we didn’t have a good view from the ferry to the skyline of Auckland. Nevertheless, we are in Auckland!
We walked the last kilometres through the inner city, got lost three times and finally arrived in the suburb Epsom, where Diana and her children Katie and Elle would host us for two nights. Our white knights! All (cheaper) hostels were fully booked and storm in the night was forecasted.
Rebekah drove us to Long Bay, where we started today’s hike. This way we avoided an apparently very dodgy crossing of a river/estuary, where the water reaches your waist even at low tide. And where you might sink into mud in the mangroves so deeply that you can hardly free yourself (according to Anneli…).
So with dry shoes and bodies we walked from Long Bay to Auckland, past stately mansions, urban beaches und surprisingly high cliffs. And finally, we took the ferry from Devonport to Auckland CBD. The view of the skyline would have been great, if it weren’t hidden behind a screen of rain.
After that we had the strange pleasure of tramping through a megacity (along roads, through parks, across sport fields and through school grounds). Our goal: the neighbourhood of Epsom, where the sister of Maggie, our Trail Angel from Matapouri, was willing to host us.
By reaching Auckland we completed 1/5 of the Te Araroa. It’s amazing to realise just how far we’ve walked in the past 25 days. Auckland represents a milestone along the way for sure. The next one is reaching 1000 kilometres. 😊
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