Waitangi Forest(143.2)-Waikare Valley Rd(166.3)
Mileage: 16.2mi/26km (+6.9mi/11.1km ferry)=23.1mi/38.1km
Campsite Elevation: 106ft/32m
What a unique day today. The four of us set off at 7am and walked the dirt and gravel road into Paihia. It was very easy walking. Felix, cruised ahead, Will listened to his sports podcast, and Becky and I entertained one another with conversation for the five hours into town. We’ve now crossed completely across New Zealand from the west to the east coast. Along the way, there was a short side hike to the lookout on Mt Bledisloe where we got our first view of what lied ahead, the Bay of Islands.
We got to Paihia before 11am and absolutely loved it! It was a Sunday, so there were people around the tourists town, but it didn’t feel overwhelming at all.
For anyone doing this hike, my advice to them is to buy their resupply in Kerikeri, but to keep hiking another day (or two) to Paihia for the overnight or zero. Almost everywhere had free and fast wifi! That is the first that has happened all hike. We only had 3km/2mi to our final campground destination (to be able to catch a ferry across the bay tomorrow morning) so we decided to totally lounge it up for the day and allow ourselves a holiday day. The information center held our packs for us and we were free birds to be tourists for the day. Felix hiked on as he needed to do laundry and shower. It was great weather, so we first got ice cream/milkshakes and laid in the grass at the public library where there was fast wifi.
I watched a couple episodes of Modern Family and got to Skype with my sister and her family. Due to the limited internet out here, we haven’t been able to have as much communication, so it was great to have a lengthy Skype session.
After that, we had burgers and fries. There was a fancy big brownie and ice cream dessert at the neighboring restaurant and I splurged on that for me and Becky since I never got my birthday brownie. It was decadent and totally worth it!
Felix called and we found out that we could take the ferry tonight instead of early tomorrow if we wanted. That was a big relief because we were going to have to pay $20 to camp at the campground before the ferry and now we could cross and freedom camp (term used here for camping outside of an offical campground) along the river on the other side of the crossing. We finished our 4.5hrs in town at the cafe where they had free wifi and they let us charge our things. I watched Survivor with Becky who had never seen it before.
We left town around 3:30pm for the 6km/4mi walk along the bay to meet Felix at the dock for the ferry. Along the way, we ran into the young German couple, Jo and Michael, who were swimming at the great beach at the end of town. They were staying in town another night and doing the morning ferry, so we may still see them down trail.
While waiting for the ferry, at just after 6pm, the man that runs the General Store walked out after closing shop and offered us all great big sandwiches for free! They have a policy of starting fresh each day, so he gives away the remaining sandwiches. The food here is pretty pricey and those had be at least $7. Perfect timing, what a day!
We got the 7pm ferry from Dusty for $20 and two French gals (Emily and Dominique) hiking the TA also took the ferry. The ferry can only run at high tide, so we got lucky that Dusty could do a night one for us and we wouldn’t have to do the 7am one tomorrow. It was a great ride for about 25mins and the perfect way to cap off such a relaxing day.
It really couldn’t get much better than today. We landed in farmland and had some gravel road walking to do for 3km/2mi to some camping labeled on Guthook’s App. It was late, so the four of us sped on ahead. We arrived at a great open grassy area around 8pm and got our tents up with the almost super moon rising. The French gals must have pulled off and found a spot because they never arrived. What a day! We somehow felt like we got to lounge all day and still made 23.1mi/38.1km of progress. 11km/7mi of it was on the ferry, but we still got plenty of walking in. It’s cool that the ferry miles are part of the official Te Araroa miles. Just a great day!