Saturday 21 November – Day 7
I was up at the crack of dawn with the birds tweeting and chattering away. A shining cuckoo was particularly chatty this morning. There was quite a heavy dew on the ground and condensation in my tent. I’ll dry it out later so for now I shoved everything into my pack and prepared to leave. Before walking out the gate I left $10 on the visitor book for my overnight tent stay. Back down in Herekino I stood on the road to Broadwood and put my thumb out. I have an idea of going to Horeke which is where the land Twin Coast Trail starts or to Kohukohu to get the ferry to Rawene. Or the boat to Horeke. I’ll wait to see where my ride is going and go with the flow. I was not having any success with getting a ride. I’d retained my pack on my back (to look authentic) but no one was stopping. It was getting hot. Car upon car drove past, many people waving at me but nothing pulling over. I thought about walking along the road and the hitching on the move but this is probably pointless so stayed put. Eventually after a good 20 minutes a ute pulled over. Relief. Joel was on his way to Dargaville and could give me a ride to the Horeke turnoff. Sold. It was a quick scenic drive and then I was out and walking the road to Horeke which is about 10-11 km. Enroute a tangi was shutting down at Mataitaua Marae. I was to learn later that it was the tangi of Ngapuhi leader Rudy Taylor. Shortly after passing the Marae I could step off the road onto the cycle trail that leads me into Horeke.
Horeke is tiny. Forget finding a cafe or pretty much anything else. There is a neat little shop run by Aunty who is surrounded by hovering women and children who just seem to be filling in time. Aunty sell gifts such as local honey, some arts & crafts and drinks and ice cream. The ice cream is in the freezer next door beside a covered waka with an impressive carved head. It is the type of the ice cream you buy in boxes from the supermarket. The packet probably says not to be sold individually. I go for a mango ice cream, a ginger beer and a whitakers peanut slab. Aunty writes out a handwritten receipt and takes my $7. That’s lunch sorted, now where to stay. It’s a few steps to the hotel, its called the Horeke Boutique Hotel. The sign reads it is the oldest hotel in the country (interesting) and unless you are staying there is nothing here for you (ominous). I hope they have a room for me so I can feel inclusive. Fortunately there is one room available but it is $140 per night. It is far more than I want to spend but as I am in the wop wops I don’t have much choice, so take it I do. The hotel does not serve lunch however there is dinner service and a continental breakfast available. Mike, the manager, leads me across creaking kauri boards through the high ceiling lounge and dining areas. Small chandeliers invoke a sense of luxury from when the hotel was in its prime. We briefly discuss bike hire before I am shown room 2. I like it immediately. The doors and floor are all kauri as are the foot high skirting and architraves. The walls are deep ruby purple and again there is a chandelier. French doors lead out onto a large deck with views of the harbour. After a quick shower I lay out my tent and other wet garments to dry in the afternoon sun and wind.
Mangungu Mission is a couple of kilometres along the road so I set off to check it out. The gravel road skirts the harbour thick with mangroves and on the other side the houses are very basic. It is certainly a contrast to the mega mansions on the east coast. I have wanted to visit the Mangungu Mission for some time because of its importance and location. Everyone has heard of or have visited Waitangi, Pompellier and Waimate North however Mangungu Mission was on the other side of the island, quite removed from the security and community in the Bay of Islands area. I’ve always been curious of its name as well. It looks (to me) hard to pronounce, all gu gu like. Or is it nu nu? I think its pronounced Ma-nu-nu but others might say Mang-u-nu. Anyhow as the sign reads, it was an important location in history as the largest signing of the Treaty of Waitangi by 70 local chiefs in February of 1840. Just imagine the harbour overflowing with waka and the 3,000 people who converged there for the ceremony. It must have been quite a sight and a massive effort to rally so many from afar with no roads to speak of. Now the Mission sits peacefully. It was closed so I could not go inside the house however I enjoyed some macadamia nuts from a tree in the orchard and poking around the cemetery.
Back at the hotel I tried to write up my blog but the WiFi was sketchy. Mike sat down for a chat. The poor guy is so busy. He’s asking me questions but his eyelids are drooping and the next time I look up they are closed. I sneak off to room 2. From 5 pm all guests arrive for the opening of the bar. Dinner is not for another two hours. But it is delicious. Everyone compliments Mike on the food. Me included for my steak. I have been chatting with a lovely adventurous couple from Nelson who are doing a month long roadtrip of the North Island. I think I am the youngest one there of the 20 something guests. Its great to see kiwis travelling and supporting, even to obscure spots.