A 5 star night. The basic bunk bed seemed to fit my dicky hip so I slept well for the first time on the trail.
We left with Mark for a 26 km day along the beautiful coast line. This was probably one of the easiest days trackwise. A bit of road, a bit of farm and some relatively easy bush ridges. So a long 9 hour day but not much concentration needed. So we chatted all day.
Some days we have had to watch every footstep which is hard on the mind, so today was good.
The Dutch couple played leapfrog with us and we all arrived in Ngarunga within a short time of each other. We climbed only 12 styles today and annoyed Mark by counting them.
We sat outside a small shop at Ngarunga waiting for James who Frances had booked a boat ride across the estuary with. A man came out of the shop with a bag of carrots and offered us one. I love my carrots so was only to pleased to choose the biggest one for myself. His wife was sitting in the car watching this but held up a bottle of wine and smiled so as to say, “You are welcome to the carrot, I have the wine” We had already found some space in our full packs for a couple of bottle of beer.
Eventually James little tin boat could be heard so we walked our way over the mudflats to a boat ride to our camp for the night. The mud was heaven on our feet and the camp good for the mind. Nikau Bay Camp is right on the trail, very tidy and with everything we needed.
Our first sawdust toilet.
We had a big planning session because the next day we had about 3km of estuary to cross. (To be honest I wasn’t actually involved as Frances us in charge if directions). We needed to time it with the tides so that we didn’t end up with water up to our necks. I was a little nervous about the coming day.
Day 20. Mud, mangroves but no crocodiles.
We were up at 4.45am and on the road an hour later with the Dutch couple. Mark had left earlier as he was going further than us that day.
Captain Frances set the pace for the first 10km as we needed to make it to the estuary bt 9.30 at the latest.
When we walk along the roads I take one for the team by wearing my personally modified Hi Viz vest over my pack. Some of these roads have no shoulders so are a bit scary. Frances does the dogs and I do the traffic. You can make up your mind who has got the best deal.
We made it by 9am and I was well ready to slow down. We had walked very fast going up and over a reasonable sized hill with full packs on got me sweating and puffing. I hope I get fitter as the trail goes on. The Dutch couple caught up making comments about how fast were were which made us feel good. So far I am the oldest on the trail.
Then we were into the mud following marker poles for 3 km and the footprints left by Mark. By pole 5 we could see Mark ahead going off route and round in circles so we had a good look and took the correct route. I have not seen mangroves like this in New Zealand before and they reminded me of Northern Queensland. So I had one eye out for crocodiles while we sloshed through the mud and water up to my thighs at the highest.
Frances and I peeled off to go the Tidesong camp for the night as we liked the name and didn’t want a really long day. We arrived at 10am and it was a good choice as we were welcomed by Hugh and Ros with coffee and cake.
Our cabin is in the bush with a hot shower and flowers in our room. A wee spot of paradise with birds singing and sheep barring. Hugh told us that he and Ros have completed most if the trail between them. They did thus after Ris donated a kidney to Hugh to show that there is life after a transplant. Hugh shared some of his interesting stories with us while we sipped his coffee.
Retired farmers they are both active members of the Te Araroa Trust and work to help keep the trail going. There are many people like them throughout the country whom I am very grateful to.
We had a relaxing day after having shower with a decent piece of soap and a towel that was bigger than an average hankie. 5 star…we are easily pleased.
An afternoon snooze and a list was made for shopping and things to do in Whangarei which will be our next stop.
I even had time to catch up on 3 episodes of Coronation Street. Sinead is about to die…so sad.