Auckland- In and out.
Staying in Auckland was amazing. I had a bed, showers and amazing food. Seeing my friends was even better than I had thought and best of all I felt so great and full of energy.
We were only going to stay for four days but Emma’s ankle ended up being in a worse state than anticipated so we decided to stay longer and wait for the x-ray results. It would be so much nicer to start up together. I didn’t mind staying anyway it meant more time to spend relaxing in my own clothes. It was just so good seeing everyone and I loved telling and retelling our story over and over again, it just became more real and exiting.
Somehow, I managed to get a bit restless towards the end though. Like, I would happily have stayed longer but I knew my adventure wasn’t finished and I was starting to get tired. We ended up staying 8 days in total.
I want to give a big thank you to my amazing team at Vevo who are always so welcoming and never get tired of my face or my long az rants. And all my hot faced friends you know who you are J so good to see you again. Cheryl, I loved our hang outs. Sarah, thanks for all your useful advice.
Unfortunately, Emma and Anton had to stay behind. Her foot was just not getting better and the results were inconclusive. With a big sad face we said good bye to both of our comrades at the bottom of Queen Street in hopes to meet up with them in a week or so. It was sad but also good to be continuing. The winter is a bit of a worry in the South Island so we do have a bit of a race with time going on otherwise we probably would have waited.
It was unreal how hard the Auckland walk was. Our bags somehow had gotten so much heavier (a lot of food) and it seemed as if the 8 rest days had taken away all our fitness progress. The lack of sleep that night didn’t help ether. We were both in seriously bad moods and the going wasn’t easy. Somehow, we managed to squeeze out 26 km ending up just past Mangere. We found a pretty sweet little spot by a bay off the track and happily settled in. our feet were super sore. Arthur’s knees hurt so bad I actually got worried we had to go back. After an incredible sunset we fell asleep.
The next day was still hard. I couldn’t understand why though. I know our bags were heavy, like seriously way to heavy but it really felt like I just started the walk all over again. It was depressing and I was so keen to just give up. My feet quickly started hurting again the roads were really hard on my feet and the sun was scorching hot. We were really just dragging our feet knowing we had to do at least 25 km that day.
Just as we were packing up after a nice long lunch in the shade, a happy faced tramper with a big pack was coming our way. That’s how we met Ben, a German fellow TA walker and we decided to walk together. Now Ben is a lot fitter than us so soon enough he was working as a good encouragement for us. He had already walked 30 km that day but happily ushered us forward to Ardmore where we hoped to find home for the day. As the time went on and the sun was still hot my feet were giving in. I was starting to feel really close to a breakdown. The soles of my feet felt raw and I was getting some chafing. Not fun. The boys where walking ahead while I was trying to figure out how I was going to make the next step. At one point I was seriously considering lying down next to the road kill rabbit and hedgehog and just staying there. Somehow, we arrived at a school hoping we could arrange a tent spot there, they weren’t keen. Luckily Arthur had called Alex (a good friend of ours) who works at Ardmore and he saved us. The handsome prince Alex couldn’t have come in a better time. He stuffed us in his little car and drove us to his work. That’s how we ended up sleeping at and airport, even better, among helicopters. There was a shower and a small kitchen and my mood was suddenly great. Thank you so much Alex!!!
I felt better and stronger already. We had gotten on the road early in hopes to have a productive day. Unfortunately, we still had a very long road section ahead before going in to the Hunua Ranges. The morning side of the day was actually pretty good, it was cloudy and with good conversations the km flew by.
Our trail took us through some pretty steep farmlands up in a gorsy bush for a brief second and then went on to more roads. Soon after lunch the clouds parted letting the unforgivable sun fry us and with no shade in sight we felt like roasted marshmallows. It was pretty miserable and my feet had started to ache again. However, we did find some blissful coolness in a storage fridge that some awesome organic herb and veg growers invited us in to. They must have felt sorry for our terrible state, sweating and moaning on the side of the road. That got us going until I saw an amazing river. By that time we had gotten hot again and I was not going on without a swim. So worth it. Soon after that we finally got to the Hunua Forest Track. There was going to be some climbing later on but for now we walked along the stream and ate black berries. Life was looking a bit better. Things got even better when we got to our camping place. Well it wasn’t really a camp site but we weren’t about to go any further and there was public toilets and other campers there. Besides, it had an amazing giant waterfall and a swimming hole. I was so overwhelmed I nearly cried just out of pure happiness. The place was magical and I didn’t hesitate to get in to the cool refreshing water. It was pure bliss.
Although I would have loved to sleep a lot longer, we forced ourselves up early to get a nice long day again. After all, we were in the forests again, things tend to take more time there. The track started easy with a steady but not too steep climb but as TA tracks go, soon enough we had to turn off the well-made comfortable track in to a muddy, steep, root hell. It hadn’t rained in the past days so it wasn’t too bad but it did take up a lot of time. Finally, just in time for lunch we got to Wairoa Dam. Somehow, between laying in the sun and filling water bladders we had managed to extend our break time too much, making us very tired and unmotivated. It was especially hard as our next track was a steep uphill walk but you got to keep moving - so we did all the way to the top of another mountain and then down a gravel road just to climb back an even higher one tomorrow. That day we had had enough though. We didn’t quite reach the 26 km mark but I was happy with 21km after all that climbing. We found a nice campsite next to a river stream with even a long drop. Mind you, I was attacked by several swallows when entering the long drop as they had made a nest just next to the toilet bowl. We cooked, ate and slowly retreated in to our tents, not before I had an amazing wash in the river. It was a very amazing freeing feeling hanging around the river, brushing my teeth and eating black berries completely naked.