Day 23 to 25 Marsden Point to Mangawhai. 400km mark passed.

Thanks to some old contacts at WorleyParsons we managed to score a ride from Whangarei out to the Marsden Point Refining New Zealand site on the workers bus. Thanks Wayne and Medhi.

Ha ha they are going to work and we are not.

On arrival Medhi ushered us into the staff cafe where we had coffee and I had a scrumtious caramel and cream donut. Frances had a huge custard cake. Very cheap and okay because of all the walking we are doing. One of the advantages of walking over 50,000 steps a day is that we can afford to eat what we want.

Yummy and cheap

Then we were off following a Pipeline Track, then a road through to Ruakaka. We were too early for the pub so continued on to the beach.

Too early for a drink.

We were not looking forward to another beach walk after the last very long hot day. I was drinking heaps to try and keep myself as cool and hydrated as possible. However the beach was enjoyable as it was overcast and there was a slight breeze. Sometimes it is best to expect the worst and then you will be easily pleased.

A good beach walk weather

We reached the 400 km mark today towards the end of the beach. Both of us are really pleased with our progress and how good we are feeling, bodies and minds. We have not come across anything yet that was unexpected or more challenging than we imagined. I think that we are both quite hard to surprise because we have both traveled and tramped in lots of different environments.

400 km done.

The only problem was all that water I had drunk wasn’t being sweated out so I had to have a record number if pee stops. One was not so successful as I had kept my pack on to do the deed. Somehow I over balanced in midstream and ended up sitting in my pee on the sand. And then I couldn’t get up without Frances helping me. She is too good to me and didn’t even take a photo. I would have taken one if it had been the other way around!

So we carried on with my sandy bum into Waipu where were were going to stay in hostel and have a shower. But it the hostel had closed down apparently because of a relationship breakdown

A local shopkeeper sent us off to the local pub but that was closed as well. (apparently owned by the same couple who owned the hostel). So like Mary and Joseph we had to take up the offer of the shopkeeper to pitch our tents in his backyard.

Trail Angel Larry.

Larry was really chatty and has had a huge amount of cycling and tramping experience so we were entertained well by him before taking advantage of the offered shower.

We cooked our dinner on his back deck feeling happy to have met another Trail Angel. The people I meet on the way are so much of the enjoyment for me. Their daughter, Laura, was to start the South Island section of the TA after Christmas so Larry was interested in our snozzel as a Christmas present for his daughter. A snozzel is a bag used to capture air to fill an air mattress. It is a very handy piece of equipment as I am usually all puffed out at the end of a day and therefore not wanting to blow up the mattress myself.

Day 24 To Dragons Spell at edge of Langview Track

A strange night

An easy start to the day with a free TA walkers coffee at local coffee shop and I downloaded an ebook at the free wifi.

A fairly boring day today. We started the day 7 km walking alongside a road on a well formed walking track with many seats that beckoned us to stop and rest way before we needed to. Thanks Waipu locals for this.

Nice walking path beside a busy road
To early to rest

This was followed by 7.5 km uphill walk along a forestry road. We are definitely getting fitter and stronger as we found the uphill easy. No huffing and puffing like we would have when we started.

The forest had been harvested and other than walking through some low cloudy mist, nothing was worth mentioning about the scenery.

However we came across a couple of youngsters spraying the edge of the road with no protective clothes, gloves or masks. I motioned to them “Mask?” And was told that they were licenced chemical user and glyphosate is harmless. No wonder the forestry industry is still one of the most hazardous industries in NZ.

We arrived quite fresh at our Trail Angel’s, called Dragonspell, not knowing what to expect. The place had been a dry out retreat for alcoholics for many years. You would need to be pretty desperate for a drink to walk 14 km to town (or be an average Te Araroa walker who does it for fun).

Usually I am easily pleased and take things as they come but I didn’t feel at all at ease in this place.  I am not sure whether it was the brown water coming out of the taps, the stale smell, the wetas in the sink, the cobwebs everywhere or the creepy poster above bed, or justs the ghosts of the poor alcoholics drying out there.

I did consider putting up my tent but manned up, put some duct tape over the hole in the horrible poster and read until I fell asleep.

I wear an eye mask and silicon ear plugs so can’t see it hear much through the night so if any ghosts or rats came to visit I didn’t notice too much. But I was up early and pleased to be leaving.

Day 25 Dragons Spell to Mangawai.

A pretty boring day really. We were off and away as soon as it was daylight not really wanting to hang about. Through bush and forest roads then along the Beam Tail Mangawai Walkway to Mangawai Heads beach.

I am definitely a bush and mud girl rather than a beach babe. The coast and beaches are beautiful up here but I have seen enough. Tomorrow should be our last day of beach walking and I won’t be too sad about that at all.

At Mangawhai Heads we asked a local man for directions to the nearest ice cream shop. “Turn left 100 meters up the road and then head a couple of blocks down the street”. Well it was at least 1.5 km to the first left turn and quite a lot more to the shops. We were getting pretty angry with the man who had obviously never walked there. It was hot and we were out of water. We only got there in one piece because we picked some fruit from a tree along the way.

The icecream was bliss. Shoes off and a lunch of cold toast, fish and cucumber revived us enough for our last 4km of road walking to Mangawhai Village.

We had booked a wee cottage in the yard Trail Angels who had also walked most of the Te Araroa. Unfortunately with only about 50km to go one of them broke a leg. That would devastate me if it happened to me. I would make Frances put me in a wheelbarrow and push me to the end.

There was 8 other hikers in tents in the yard along with a free range pet rabbit. We felt like the Ladies of the Manor in our cottage.

Then we put through a call to Frances’s cousin, Mark, to take us to his place for a shower. Coincidentally, Mark had worked at WorleyParsons with me a few years ago and had been following my blog since the beginning. Small world. Shower, beer and snacks in a peaceful bush setting was just what we needed. Thanks Mark.