It stopped raining last night so my tent was dry this morning. After a leisurely pack up I headed back up the track to the road which I followed a few hundred meters, up to the cell phone Tower. I was a little unsure of the notes versus the map but went another hundred meters and there was the TA sign for the correct track. It was downhill on a moderately slippery clay track to the road then immediately across and 1 km to the next trail. This was through a patch of bush the Dunns had donated to the Queen Elizabeth Trust back in the 80s. It was a lovely trail that soon came out onto farmland where the it followed the ridgeline.
The one thing I couldn't work out is what the numbered markers meant. There were 12 orange triangles with sequential numbers. They did not seem to be distance markets because 5 km split between 12 didn't make sense and I could not see anything of significance at each one. A mystery which kept me entertained for the walk.
The walk came out at Puhoi which is a pretty little historic town with white buildings and red roofs. I stopped at the general store and had an early lunch of a hot dog, chips, chocolate bar, raisin pinwheel and chocolate milk. Not surprisingly I was a bit lethargic for the next part as my body digested that feast. From here it is meant to be a 7 km kayak but the tide was not right until 1600 and i did not want to wait around for 4 1/2 hours so i did the road option which was the same length as going to the kayak get out point.
First was 1 km of road and then I was on SH1, the main route through NZ. I was on this for 2 km and did not enjoy it as it was so busy. Luckily there was a wide shoulder to walk on but I was glad to get off.
Taking the exit onto the old highway the traffic was still busy but not as bad as SH1. It was 3 km on this then 1 km down to Wenderholm Regional Park where I went to the boat ramp and joined the trail which was on Perimeter Track on a large hill. To me perimeter track implies going around something. This track should have been called the up and over track because we climbed to the top of the hill and then went down the other side. Unfortunately there wasn't even a view as a reward for the climb as the bush was too thick.
Near the end I heard people counting off which is a way the military keeps track of groups of people and sure enough it was a services academy for youth wanting to join the army, navy or air force. I stopped to talk for a while and it was nice to see kids with ambition working to get where they want to go. They were doing a Tramp to improve their fitness.
Shortly after I crossed the Bridge over amazingly clear water at Waiwera.
Here the trail followed the rocks along the coast but as this was low tide route only I had to do the road alternate up and over a large Hill. When I arrived at Hatfields Beach I managed to marry up with Barry, an old friend who I was in the same adventure racing team with- Team Capital Stamina. He arrive with cupaccino and chocolate Brownie which was much appreciated, as was his company. We talked for 45 minutes and it was great to catch up, then I was off again.
From here it was on footpaths over another hill with great views over Orewa Beach and then onto the beach for a quick 3 km. This was an interesting beach walk as there were so many other people out walking. The were a few strange looks at my pack and poles and a few conversations which made the distance passed quickly.
After crossing the Bridge over the Orewa River it was onto the Te Ara Tahuna trail along the estuary. Now I am sure under normal circumstances I would love this trail as it was a wide concrete path along the estuary but for a TA walker concrete is torture in your feet and I looked at the trail in horror. There were surprisingly few places where I could walk on the grass beside the trail and it seemed to take ages to cover the 2.5 km.
Finally it was over and I had nearly 2 km of footpath to get to Silverdale where I stopped at Burger Fuel for a huge burger and chips for diner - yum.
From there it was another 9.5 km of road walking to the Okura Bush Walkway where I was planning to camp. Maxine passsed me with 6 km still to go and offered a ride (which I turned down). Maxine and Peter own the private holiday park in Stillwater. They offer all TA hikers a free campsite. When I turned up an hour later just as it became dark they gave me a token for the showers (best pressure and piping hot) and offered me a spot for my tent or to sleep in the TV room- hmm guess what I chose. Their philosophy is if we are doing such a big challenge the least they can do is give us a free campsite for the night and to me this earns then the title of Trail Angels.
This is a good place to wait to get the tide right for the Okura Estury crossing and is in a beautiful spot next to the boats and water. I fluffed about getting ready fit the night with the TV on as background noise just for the novelty of it.