I don’t care what the weatherman say - 31st October - 2nd November 2011
Kerikeri, New Zealand
Upon leaving Nadi I had a dodgy tummy so I was not looking forward to the flight. The severe turbulence quickly took my mind off this as my life repeatedly flashed before me. When we finally landed in Auckland we thanked our lucky stars that the trip had not come to an abrupt end!
After a brief sleepover we awoke early to make the drive to Kerikeri, a small farming town in the north of the North Island. The temperature was noticeably cooler and mid-way through the drive the rain started and was to be a feature of the next few days.
Stuart and I were determined to get the walking boots back on and start stomping again (or tramping as it is known in NZ). To warm up the old bones we took an evening stroll to the stone house in Kerikeri. It was Halloween with a number of lively children out trick or treating. We got a big cheer as we waved to a group who were seeing how many waves and beeps they could get from passing walkers and cars.
The following day we drove very slowly on the mostly unsealed road to Puketi Forest. We now know why our car insurance does not cover burst tires, cracked windscreens or damage to the bottom of the car - no pressure then! As we arrived at the trailhead the rain was pouring as the old man was snoring. After a brief chat with some local Maori Youth who could not have been dressed less appropriately for their walk we started on our way.
It was not long before we were completely soaked, even the loggers we passed were taking shelter. We managed about 10K before admitting defeat and made our way back for a much needed cup of tea. I think the pictures of us looking all soggy speak for themselves!
With the rain now more of a drizzle we made the short drive to Matauri. I am sure this would be a beautiful part of the Bay of Island when the sun is out. We had a short walk along the seashore and saw a beached hammerhead shark washed up in the distance. I was not brave enough to get up close and personal just in case it was still alive.
Size of a cow
It is like being home from home as we travel around New Zealand. The landscape seems very familiar and we love the endless green hills which look almost too perfect to be real. I was expecting to see lots of sheep and yes we have seen a few but the number of cows and cute little calves far outweigh the baa lambs. I think your statistics are correct Alan!
All by myself
Due to the absence of motorways and interesting road surfaces we have really underestimated how long it would take to get to different places. This along with the weather encouraged us to reassess our plans and make a u-turn to the Coromandel Peninsula. We stayed in Tararu in Thames and it was time to challenge ourselves again. We ventured to the Kauaeranga Valley and opted to walk 'The Pinnacles' and finish off on the 'Billy Goat Circuit'.
This was a great tramp. The weather was kind to us and the scenery and terrain underfoot ever changing. As we got closer to the pinnacle the decent became ever more vertical with limited footholds and a heavy reliance on the odd metal handle that had helpfully been connected to the rock face. Once again on our trip we were both being put to the test. Stuart almost made it but the height eventually got to him. I had my determined head on and continued all by myself to reach the top. It was a little cloudy but I just about managed to see views of the bush, various mountains and coastline of the eastern Coromandel Peninsula.
After a slow and less than elegant decent we continued to tramp along the Billy Goat Circuit. There was a lot of down on this track with some steep boulders and lots of mud. The views of the Billygoat Falls (180m high) were particularly impressive. Toward the end we met up with a happy bunch of school children with one of them turning to Stuart to ask lots of geological questions thinking he was one of the teachers! Stuart did a good job at giving him what sounded like well-educated answers! As we continued our walk we passed an older gentleman who Stuart nearly knocked off the cliff - we discovered he was the Headmaster - go to the back of the class Stuart!
We are now getting back into the swing of walking. Today we visited Karangahake Gorge and completed a straightforward 10 K walk along the Ohinermuri River to Waikino. At the end of the trail we enjoyed a lovely cuppa (and naughty cake) in a converted station café. The walk included a very dark walk through the 1K tunnel; Liz we can now empathise with you when you have to walk in the dark.
In our next entry Stuart will describe the sights and smells of Rotorua and recount our most amazing biggest challenge to date - The Tongarira Alpine Crossing.