Whangarei to Auckland
I enjoyed the Star Wars movie. Not sure if it was because I was in the amazing world again or if it was the popcorn, soda and bubbly cinema vibes but for a few hours I felt 'normal' again.
We have been really lucky with the weather so far. We couldn't complain too much when the weather reports told us a storm was coming. I mean we did prepare for this to happen at some point. When the actual weather hit though the motivation to go on just disappeared all together. On the 1st of January it was bucketing down. The people tenting around us huddled in their cars overnight because their big holiday tents couldn't hold up and I was more than proud of our little reliable marshmallow that didn't let a single drop of rain through.
The night got a bit adventurous when I woke up with an unpleasant stomach situation and when it hadn't gone by the next morning we quickly decided to stay at the camp another day. Under the circumstances it was really a very easy decision. So we slumbered in the TV room playing cards, sleeping, reading and in Antons case making his biscuit tin banjo in the hopes that the rain would pass.
I felt better the next day so even though it was still raining there was no excuse to stay longer. We packed down our wet tents (outside only) and headed for Oceans Beach.
It was raining non-stop and we quickly got extremely soaked, even with all our rain gear. The beach was covered in a thick fog and the only happy thought I had at that time was that we where probably the first people to walk Oceans Beach this new year.
It got worse as we realised all the rivers that where flowing into the ocean where so much higher and deeper now. With no way around them we just had to slosh right through them with our wet shoes. Oh, the joy of being in wet shoes all day. The worst notion was that we probably had to pitch our wet tents tonight with no chance to dry our clothes and gear and not knowing when this rain would end. It was a long, slow day. We kept to ourselves. I was trying to occupy my heavy mind with fantasies of a hot shower and a dryer.
There was supposed to be a hut in the hills after the beach walk that we were aiming for. I secretly hoped it would have a fire.
We met some people that thought the hut would be locked and as it was off the track we decided to call Doc to confirm this before ventureing down there. That's when we ran in to Douggy who was walking his dog. He had a studio 5km ahead that he took TA walkers in for cheap. We where saved and there was no real discussions(Except Arthur, who wanted to walk the rest of the main track) about weather we should walk across the hills and forests or just walk the much shorter way on the road to McKenzie Bay where he lived.
Douggys home was cozy and characterful. He generously invited us in for coffee and cake it was more than we could wish for. His studio was filled with beautiful artwork and prints he had done and we where over the moon. The studio quickly became a big dryer for the four wet happy trampers.
That evening my stomach situation turned from bad to worse. I actually thought I had finished with it but as I woke up in the middle of the night, barely reaching the door, before last night dinner came rushing out I had to admit something was seriously wrong here. The next morning I felt absolutely horrible, I was shaky, achy and weak. So, I hitched a ride with an incredible kind man who took me all the way to the bay where we met up with Dave who took us over to Marsden Point in his dingy.
The day was a 20km walk along a beach and although I felt a bit better, after some food I was not up for any more walking that day. We decided it was best for Arthur to come with me and then just meet up in Waipu if they made it all the way there. We quickly got a ride with an interesting and kind man who loved golf to the point that he had built a bed in his van to travel to golf courses around New Zealand. He even took us on a tour through Waipu golf course. We found a park with a lot of portaloos and I curled up in a ball and slept until the evening. Anton and Emma had met some people at an ice cream truck (if you come by Mr Zippies, get some, it's amazing and the people who own it are even amazing'er) who told us to tent on their lawn. We took them up on their offer and ended up having a fabulous evening, sharing our food and stories with them, their kids and two french wooffers. I was feeling better.
Emma's family were meeting us at Waipu Cove beach for an 'after Christmas' Christmas lunch. It ended up being a short distance day but a very delicious one with laughter and sunny leisure time. It was nice being surrounded by people like that again and I was feeling a lot better, especially after the amazing filled rolls and cakes. In the late afternoon we had to bid our farewell's and head up the mountains towards Mangawhai. On the beach Arthur had met someone he new from the film industry, she was staying at her friends in a house that we would be passing and again we had secured a place to stay for the night, a magical and special one. It was owned by a charismatic and cosmic woman called Karli, she was a Harly riding hippy chick like no others and her house was a real gem hidden in the mountain overlooking the forests and sea. The place had previously been a rehabilitation retreat so there where small bunk rooms for all of us even with a hot shower. Karli invited us to join her and her friends in the main house and soon we where part of an unforgettable night. There were guitar and harmonica songs, great conversions and we were constantly being fed. The vibe was so intense it almost did seem a bit cosmic and it lasted with us for the whole of next day.
After passing some stunning scenic tracks through Mangawhai and eating yet another ice cream we ended up asking for tent space on some farm land. The people who owned it kindly agreed to let us set up camp at the end of their driveway and even brought us a bucket of freshly picked peaches. It was yummy, fresh fruit wasn't something we ate often so hands full of peaches, we scuffed them down like crazed animals. Later we even boiled some in water with sugar coconut cream powder and cinnamon (Anton is carrying a lot of awesome things with him) it was heaven.
Every day was a day closer to Auckland and the excitement was unreal. I had told myself that if I could reach Auckland, nothing else would matter. It was my first big goal and I was so exited to see my friends I was even having imaginary conversations in my head. I was imagining what I would wear and say walking in to Vevo (my old work) but most importantly, what I would eat. We talked a lot about that the next few days. Since Oceans Beach the weather had been really good to us. So when the rain woke us up just before Puhoi we didn't feel too happy. It was going to be a semi hard day and the rain was definitely there to stay. We got soaked to the bone but somehow the mood wasn't too bad, maybe it was because we were closing in on Auckland or we knew we where going to a township. It wasn't until we took a silly wrong turn at the forest, only 5km from the town, adding an extra 5km walk, that we got a bit moody. I mean we literally made a short downhill walk into another gnarly, muddy climb through the forest. It was super annoying. I was partly to blame. Arthur and Emma had their doubts but I was certain we were following our trail markers. Turns out they use the same trail marker for different trails. I made a mental note to write to the TA organisers. More people would be making the same mistake surely. Oh, and I drowned my camera in my rain jacket pocket. Somehow it had turned in to a mini pool in there so that's where my photos end for now. Great!!
The rain had stopped and the sun was drying our wet asses and people where shouting encouraging things: “only 1km away! You'l really deserve that beer now.” And yes we did. First though, we ran in to Campbell, a local vet and a hero to us. He was going to give us a room for the night. We ate our fish and chips, dried our stuff on hand dryers at the public toilets and shared a beer with our new friend. He was a very interesting character. Listening to him recite poetry and tell stories while drinking delicious local beer was a great way to end our long wet day.
The next 4 days flew by. We even did an 8 km kayak trip from Puhoi, nice to work out the arms for a change. We where in known territory now. When we had our chip buttys in Waiwera it felt really weird.
Time got a bit dragged out as we had to wait for the low tide in order to get to Orewa around the bays and even more the next day when we had to cross a uncomfortable high river before hitting the bays of North Shore. Getting to the city was a bit slower than I wanted. Oh, the feeling of knowing Auckland was just a day away.
We where constantly talking about the food we would eat, the things we would do, our beds our clothes and people. I couldn't even begin to describe how exited I was.
We had arranged with Neil, Arthur's old boss and friend, to pick us up at Davonport and let us paddleboard across to the city instead of catching the ferry but the wind was on the wrong side so instead he took us for an incredible delicious lunch and then to his home where we got to have a spa and cold beer and fruit. Neil, you wonderful human, we are so thankful to you for making our arrival to Auckland so much more special. Now we are going to rest for a few days and prepare for the next four months. I still cant believe I made it. All the fears, all the doubts and I'm here now, happy and fit. I have lost 5kg and I truly feel amazing. Not only because I look great (I'm not even ashamed to say that) but because I have been part of something incredible and even after this 1 month I can feel tremendous changes in me. I'm so exited to keep going, but now ill rest and catch up with my friends who I have missed like crazy.