16th Oct, Te Araroa 15 day
Stayed at Beachside Holiday Park
Boat trip (Opua – Waikare $20pp)7:30 start, we left the warmth of our cabin at Beachs Holiday Park
We had two options to get around the Waikare inlet to start the Russel Forest track, water or by road. The official path is by water, so at 7:30am while it was high-tide, seven of us loaded onto the small boat and headed to Waikare landing with Dusty being our pilot (captain)- he took time out and pointed out some of the birds life along the way and tried to tell us one of the birds that was sitting high up in the tree, was in fact a penguin that could fly. But we knew better as there were to many New Zealand’s on board.
Seven of us on the boat and most were from the original group from the 90 mile beach walk when we first started off. Each traveling at various speeds but somehow we ended up together on the boat. I helped out with the unloading the bags from the boat, while I handed the bags over to Scott, most were lighter than mine as I’d decided to carry all the food to make Eunhwa’s bag lighter, but one bag in particular was extremely heavy which belonged to a Belgium guy and now I understand why they had travelled so slowly, Later I found out that he was carrying three types of cheese and other luxury items that I wouldn’t have considered taking. I guess if your strong enough and in no hurry, why not.
We left the boat behind and made a good pace, passing old disused houses and farm equipment. Again, we were lucky with the weather with the start of the river crossing being only ankle deep and if you ran, no water would enter your boots. The land we passed through is Maori land that had given the Te Araroa walker access through. We got lost many times, even our GPS wasn’t much help unless we moved 100 metres or more to get a better direction. Finally we had enough and decided to descend and head upstream where we knew the path was. Walking adjacent and out of the river where the path should have been was much too hard, although we followed the markers that were few and far between, the track was confusing. So we just headed down into the river and proceeded from there with water up to our waist at times but generally knee height.
Just before we left the private land, we found a 750gram of unopened mixed nuts and dried fruits which have obviously been there for a couple of nights. Left by walkers like us, when they tried to climb over a farm fence, it must have just fallen out of their backpacks so by midday, half was eaten. Thank you fellow backpackers.
Exited the forestry and the pleasant walking paths and now onto the road and it soon became time to find a place to pitch our tent. As we all walked at different speeds, we agreed to meet back up at the first camp site in Oakura which was clearly marked on the map. Finally we get to this point and knowing that we were the last in the line, we were surprised to see we were alone. But as it turned out, there wasn’t a campsite there at all just a patch of grass where I guess you could pitch up your tent behind some private property. As we approached, we asked one of the neighbors if its ok to camp and he in return invited us onto his property to camp which had much nicer and softer grass.
He asked us if we wanted fresh fish and naturally we said yes and just after we setup out tent, a fish arrived, caught the previous day along with lemons, oranges and herbs to cooks the fish with. What luxury meal we had that evening.