24 – 26 November – Day 10 – 12
Paihia – Rawhiti – Oakura 26 km
Tuesday and Wednesday this week were forecast rain. It drizzled with light showers on Tuesday and was more pronounced on Wednesday especially an almighty downpour around midday. I was glad not to be on the trail getting soaked. I really don’t like getting wet. I never have even since a child. The thought of a wet raincoat sticking to your clothes and body is so completely unappealing to me that I loath going out in the rain. Many I am sure are not fazed by rain and may even enjoy the experience. For me it’s a solid No. Fortunately my friends Wendy and Phil are wonderful, generous people and they provided me with shelter, entertainment and nourishment during this wetter interlude. During these days I had a lovely catch up with Shane and Robyn Schrafft from St John. Shane even offered a boat ride around to Rawhiti however the conditions would turn out to be unsuitable for this. I took a moist walk to Waitangi and enjoyed excellent coffee and muffins at the Third Wheel cafe.
Low and behold someone called out my name. I lowered my gaze from the downpour I was sheltering from under the eves of the main street in Paihia and there was my friend from Christchurch, Jodie. We went to tech together back in the day and I wrote about staying with Jodie in my 2017 blog. Clever Jodie actually went onto use her architectural prowess, including their home. She was on a northland roadtrip with her sister. Selfie time! I hope to see her again when I am in the south island. I have also been restocking on food for the next section down the coast. It pays to take advantage of supermarkets for hiking food as they have more range and are way cheaper than dairies and the like. Phil enquired what my menu looked like and I went through the usual tuna sachets, noodles, couscous, OSMs (one square meals) (apricot). He had us in stitches as quick as a flash he retorted with “oh couscous and cat food then”. Now if that wasn’t destined to be the name of my next blog post!
Thursday has rolled around and the weather has cleared nicely. In fact it could not be better. Warm with a gentle breeze and clouds to filter the sun. We all jump into Phil’s flash new Ranger and head for Rawhiti, where I will be walking from. The idea is to walk to a camping place called The Farm and the following day onto Helena Bay. Our ride calls for a quick ferry ride across the Russell inlet from Opua then around the coastal road to Rawhiti. Quick goodbyes are the easiest and bam I’ve the pack on and it’s one foot infront of the other again. My pack is weightier – I did pack way too much food. Rookie mistake.
It is easy walking as far as road walking goes. Vehicles are few and far between; maybe a couple every 30 minutes. Not far from the Rawhiti turnoff I walk over the brow of a hill and there is Elliott Bay before me. There is a small seat to enjoy the view of this popular surfing beach from. No surfers out today but they are missing out as the waves are rolling in beautifully. I have admired this beach from the car when driving this way to Russell. It looks as idyllic as ever. The road continued past some more small bays then turned inland from the coastline. There wasn’t too much of interest actually. For the most part I trudged on, stepping onto the verge when a vehicle passed and looking for anything of interest. Most of the drivers would wave, some I could see would be staring across at me under their rear vision mirror. Probably thinking “what the hell is he doing out here”? I crossed from the Far North District into Whangarei District. It marks another milestone in my progress south. A sign marked the location – pock marked from rifle shot in an evidently biased fashion.
This road could be called the Peach Highway. There have been peach trees on the road side since Rawhiti. Goodness knows how they got there – pips thrown out car windows? Or more deliberate? I don’t know but it is so rare to find fruit trees on our roads or on the trail. I wish there was more of this. Especially if ripe and edible. If the birds and opossums don’t eat the fruit some TA hikers in the coming months will have a hoard of fruit to enjoy. I arrive at The Farm by midday already. It’s quiet as there is a tangi being held there today. I decide to continue walking to Oakura. The road begins to climb a hill shortly after The Farm. Cars and vans are more frequent, almost in convoy. I guess they are attending the funeral too. By the time I reach the top they’ve stopped passing me. The top of the hill is distinctly an old Maori pa site. The deep trenches are evident. I wish there was an information board about it as we are in Whangaruru now. Around a bend in the road and a yacht is sitting somewhat forlornly to the side. It reminds me of the movie “A Boy called Sailboat” – if you have not seen this film I highly recommend it.
In the next picture you will see the sign warning of the Russell forest closure. In conjunction with iwi the forest access has been closed to Te Araroa walkers due to potential threat of kauri dieback disease. Fortunately I was able to walk through the forest back in 2017 and I have fortunate for it. There is a very pleasant walk down a stream that I enjoyed very much. Sadly now with the forest closure, walkers must circumvent it with a road walk either from Russell or Rawhiti. From this point all the way down to South Auckland I will be retracing my walk in 2017. A few tracks have changed since however for the most part it’ll be the same although in the opposite direction. It’s completely fine with me as there are some spectacular sections to be walked. I arrive in Oakura at 3:30pm and stop at the little store for an ice cream. I’ve guzzled the last of my water so get a coke too. Then it’s just around the corner to my trail angels host for the night. My grandparents had a bach here. I was really young then, maybe 5 years old but I remember we loved it. Mum used to go swimming in the rain and said the water felt warmer. I remember breaking my grandmother’s swimsuit and hiding it under the bach for fear of being found out. I was found out but to my relief she said it was old and worn out anyway. Funny the things we remember.. Oakura Bay Fish Dive & Cruise also have tent sites and caravans for TA hikers. My tent site for tonight is elevated with a glorious view of the sea. Tomorrow to Whananaki.