In the past 7 days we hiked from Auckland to Hamilton and covered 197 kilometres on the Te Araroa Trail.
Total TA kilometres: 799 kilometres according to maps
Philippe: Walking in the forests
Nadine: Trail Magic (shower and family BBQ)
Nadine: Stumbling over cow pastures, holey and covered with cowpats
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 26: Auckland (Epsom), (Zero Day)
For us, a Zero Day is always a chores day. Blog in the morning and shopping in the afternoon. We wanted to swap our flipflops against something more comfortable and buy new insoles for the shoes. I think the soles caused at least some of the blisters. We walked to Newmarket, where we spent quite some time during our language stay. Because of that we had a look at the gym, the cinema and a take away. Old memories came up.
Nadine found some shoes from Crocs and I bought a pair of light Teva sandals, due to the lack of fitting Crocs. Both ideal campshoes, which we also can use for longer river crossings. And they’re not much heavier than my old flipflops. We picked up our Bounce Box, or the content respectively, at the end. Because it was Sunday, the post offices were closed unfortunately. Whether we liked it or not,we would have to bring the parcel to the post on Monday.
Another busy Zero Day (buying campshoes and insoles, preparing the bounce box), which we ended with a self baked Swiss Apple Pie. 😉
Diana and her girls liked it too, and like this we snuggled into the warm bed satisfied and languerous. Again, we don’t know when we will sleep in a bed the next time.
Day 27: Auckland (Epsom) to Manukau
34 kilometres, 7h15min
Our Trail Angel Diana was so nice and dropped us and the parcel at the closest post office. After that we continued on the Te Araroa. I surely can imagine doing better things than walking through Auckland. However, I was sursprised by the variety of the route. In Ambury Park I almost considered myself outside of Auckland. Apart from that it was dull and physically and mentally exhausting. The noise of the streets, the sensory overload, the sun, the planes in the landing approach, the industrial sites and the everlasting tarmac.
I was really happy when we reached the holiday park in Manukau. An overpriced (20$ p.P.) campground with a kitchen without dishes and cutlery, with aged amenities and the usual longterm campers. The closeness to the airport is definitely a benefit for the owners.
Even though we walked through city areas all day the route was surprisingly green. We walked through several parks and reserves and for a long time along the shore. Interesting but less pleasant were the stretches next to the city’s sewage works, past the airport (landing approach ditectly above us), and through industrial sites.
In Manukau we checked in at the holiday park (20$ p.P.!) with sore feet. Now I try to get an idea about what’s expecting us in the next days. One thing is for sure, there will be no more walking on beaches for quite a while.
Day 28: Manukau to Hunua Falls
33 kilometres, 7h45min
Hurray! Finally out of the city! After the first few metres I already felt that we’d been walking too many kilometres on the streets of Auckland and surroundings. Either the feet or the hips or then the shoulders hurt. Even after 28 days something tweaks and hurts always.
As the gaps between the houses were getting wider and wider I started to feel relieved. And at some point there were farms and small settlements again. And as we walked on the route along the Waiora River the burden of the city was taken from me.
We pitched our tent at the Hunua Falls. But the water was too cold for me to swim.
Today it was again hours and hours of walking on the road with lots of trucks tearing past. I also had problems with motivating myself (despite the sunshine 😉).
But what do we do in that case? Exactly, one foot in front of the other.
And finally the Te Araroa led us into the dorest again. A welcome change after so many kilometres in urban areas. Our campspot tonight is next to the Hunua Falls, a pretty, picturesque waterfall in the forest.
Day 29: Hunua Falls to Mangatawhiri (Lyons Rd.)
33 kilometres, 9h45min
We spent the whole day in the forest. The silence and isolation do funny things to your brain. At some point my own thoughts are too much for me and I start to listen to podcasts and music. Or there occur some strange talks about food like the one about our imaginary dinner.
Starter: Toast with Vegemite (Marmite is okay too) and fried egg.
Main course: Pizza!
Dessert: Pumpkin Pie with coconut icecream.
And we also went through Christmas cookies.
The last 9 kilometres through the forest were the most exhausting ones. 3 p.m. was too early for us to camp so we decided to tackle the challenging “tramping track”. The forest was wonderfully steep and species-rich and demanded our last power resources.
When we set up camp at 7 p.m. on a farmer’s paddock we were flat. No wonder, 9h45min of pure walking are the longest time we’ve walked so far. And >1600m up and down.
What a day. Almost 10 hours of hiking, 33 kilometres (incl. 1,5km detour), and more than 1600m uphill. And the same again downhill. And all of it in the forest. Well, that was actually the best about it. Because we would have been fried by the sun otherwise.
Speaking of frying: on the last kilometres we phantasized about what we would love to eat right now. Hello Trail Food Syndrome! Our choice:
Starter: toast with margerine, Marmite and a fried egg, as well as salad and a cheese platter (Swiss cheese, please)
Main course: Pizza
First dessert: Pumpkin pie / apple crumble
Second dessert (because we’re not satisfied yet): coconut icecream
P.S. ultimately we had 3-minute noodles with peas and tomatoe paste for dinner and chocolate/cookies for dessert…
Day 30: Mangatawhiri (Lyons Rd.) to somewhere before Rangiriri
35 kilometres, 9h30min
Sometimes the Te Araroa sucks. Especially the first 20 kilometres were just shit. I experienced my personal hayfever-hell. Wouldn’t I have had my meds with me, I probably had suffocated because of the mucus. Everywhere the weeds were blossoming and the route lead through meadows, fields and paddocks where no cow or mower as grazed. With every pollen cloud I produced more mucus. Until I fled to Mercer into the ideal world of a highway service station.
After Mercer went along the Waikato River. Firstly through unspeakable bush, which unnerved us. After that it was getting better and we could conentrate on our surroundings. Sometimes I wished for a hiking highway à la Appalachian Trail.
Words (and my energy) fail me to describe today in whole sentences…
Grass, that grew so high it tickled my chin. Philippe ‘s constant sneezing. Cowpat-slalom on stopbanks. Sundae icecream at McDonald’s. Holey cow pastures. High and thick grass and shrubs with hidden dips and other tripping hazards. Peaceful settings along Waikato river. Unnecessary, sadistic detours of the route. Boardwalks that you discover in the thick green only after you pulled your wet shoe out of the mud.
Day 31: before Ragiriri to before Hakarimata Scenic Reserve
29,5 kilometres, 6h15min
After a long time we met other Te Araroa hikers. Mike (UK) and Emily (USA) started three days earlier than us and since then – according to our talks – had never been far away from us. As usual it was great to exchange Te Araroa gossip and to talk about other meetings with Te Araroa hikers. Our ways parted in Huntly for a short while because we actually planned to camp there.
A revision of the kilometres to Hamilton and a booking at the YHA Hostel in Hamilton made us to continue the hike. After roughly 30 kilometres we stopped before the Hakarimata Ranges. These hilly forests we attempt to climb tomorrow.
Today was rather dull and mind-numbing, until we met Emily (USA) and Michael (UK) in the late morning. They were the first other Te Araroa hikers since Stillwater, apart from a Kiwi guy we met briefly. They updated us about who’s walking behind or ahead of us and we led some nice conversations that made a couple of kilometres go by quickly.
After lunch our paths parted, though. We had to go to the supermarket and were still unsure about whether we should stay in Huntly or not. After some back and forth (such decisions are definitely not our strength) we decided to walk until Hakarimata Scenic Reserve so that we would reach Hamilton in one day tomorrow (a Zero Day was calling 😉).
Shortly before the Reserve we met Emily and Michael again. They gave us the hint that a woman a few houses back offered them to camp in her front yard. They wanted to go a bit farther, but we were done for today. So we followed up that offer instead. And here we are now, sitting in our tent in the front yard, freshly showered (after 5 days!) and in pleasant anticipation of the BBQ that we were invited to join. 😁
Day 32: before Hakarimata Scenic Reserve to Hamilton
32 kilometres, 8h30min
Yesterday evening was great. We camped in Emmeline’s and Joe’s garden and were immidiately invited to their family BBQ. I haven’t seen so much food on a table for a very long time. In the middle of the family chaos we sat, we stuffed ourselves, told about our adventures and listened to the family stories. And Joe even told us about the Samoan traditions, like tattoos. And we got a shower after 5 days!
The day was rainy. Therefore we sped off through the Harakimata Ranges (2h30min faster than stated). After that we followed the Waikato River until Hamilton and on the way we met Emily and Mike again. Together we mainly walked on the river bank until the YHA Hostel. The next two days we’re going to spend there and we celebrated it with wine and … of course, pizza!
It’s the little things that make live so nice. That applies to the trail too. I was so satisfied after he shower and the great BBQ yesterday (it was a small family gathering actually), we were sent off this morning with best wishes and I wasn’t even bothered by the rain that pelt down on us frequently throughout the day, or by the steep muddy path (I didn’t fall once!), or the supposedly great views that we missed due to clouds and rain. I was simply happy to be on the trail and able to walk through New Zealand.
Appropriately to my current state of mind there were quotes along one part of the track in the Harakimata Scenic Reserve.
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” – Winston Churchill
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