Last night we had a fun evening with the 2 Aussie ladies and gained a good insite into the problems our overseas hikers have with the trail. Unlike us, they could not even imagine what our tracks can be like and found some of the same issues we are having with the trail notes.
They are going to make contact with the TA Trust and give some feedback to them.
My new air mattress was heaven so I managed to get a reasonable nights sleep so woke feeling a lot less grumpy than I had been feeling.
It was drizzling when we left at 8 am so off we went looking like a marshmallow and an orange in our ponchos. But it was warm as the trail took us via The Old Stone Store down by the wharf then out of town past posh houses with gates that cost about the price of an average house in Palmerston North. Lots of development going on, a nice new footpath for us but no public toilets yet.
So we raced on holding our pee and made a mad rush to find a toilet bush as entered the Waitangi Forest. We didn’t care too much about the sign warning us that there were surveillance cameras in operation. When you gotta go, you gotta go!
The next 14 km was along forestry tracks with many mountain bike tracks crisscrossing through the forest. Not much else to report about that part of the day except a yummy lunch of cold toast with avocado, carrot and Parmesan cheese was had on the edge of the track.
We came across a plaque commemorating the opening of this first link track of the TA by the Prime Minister at the time, Jim Bolger. He was a keen tramper and advocate for the Te Araroa as was Helen Clarke who lead the country a couple of years after him. . We were lucky to have them supporting the trail. There was also a sculpture which creeped us both out so much that we couldn’t even take a photo of it. It reminded me of the piles of skulls I saw in Cambodia left after the killings by Pol Pot regime. I am obviously not very artistic!
When we hit the road Frances went in one direction as she was going straight to Paihia to do a few jobs. I got a lift for the last couple of km and arrived at Waitangi the same time as Josh (aka naked young German fella from the river) and his girlfriend. I had a quick coffee with them and I was off to look around. We have to be a bit careful about entering cafes as hikers can get a bit smelly, but I was in only 1 day old clothing so okay.
I wanted to go to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds to see one of New Zealand’s most significant historic places. The museum and the treaty house were interesting and I spent quite some time in there as I had never been here before. The Treaty is an agreement made in 1840 between representatives of the British Crown and more than 500 Māori chiefs. It resulted in the declaration of British sovereignty over New Zealand. In more recent years this has caused some unrest among our people.
Then I walked along the pretty coastal path to Paihia to meet up with Frances at the YHA Hostel. Proper bed tonight and fish’n’chips for tea and Movenpic ice-cream for dessert so I am feeling a bit spoiled. Being one of the biggest tourist towns in the Bay of Islands it was busy and there was lots of boats in the pretty harbour.
We are both sure we have lost at least 2kg in weight since we started. We are feeling stronger each day and must be getting fitter. Frances now wearing matching knee braces from the $2 Shop to keep her aching knees in check. Our little toe blisters from Ninety Mike Beach have healed and all and all we are bearing up as good if not better, than the young ones on the trail.