Today 25 km. Total 222 km. 8 hours (0745-1545).
I was woken at 0600 by rain so I decided to stay in bed a bit longer. It was heavy rain but only lasted 15 minutes. Just enough time to get everything wet just before it needed to be packed up. There was also a lot of condensation inside my tent which was partly the location we were in. I would have chosen a different campsite but I didn't want to be anti social and set up elsewhere.
The other difference camping with others is it seems to take more time to do normal routines. It is not that other people are doing anything to interfere, just more distractions. It was nice to talk with other people who have experienced what I have, though I have struck much better weather than they have. They were the ones I saw walking down the beach when I was driving up to Cape Reinga.
It was also good to have a look at a similar tent to mine made by Tarptents however it would be much to big for my needs and is heavier than mine. I will stick with my little tent. It was the first heavy rain on my tent and it stood up well with no leaks. The best thing is as it is Cuben Fibre it does not absorb water so you can shake it and it is nearly dry and you don't need to worry about touching the sides which effects just about every other tent material. It was fun having a night with other walkers but I was happy to leave by myself.
I left at 0745 and it was only 2.5 km to the 200 km mark which I celebrated with a photo.
After another km it was onto a farm track which was the most difficult navigation so far. They must have had a very tight budget for track makers. The usual trick of don't leave your current maker until you see the next didn't work because you could not see the next often. Instead it was follow your gut and keep looking around, even backwards, until you spotted the next one. Often looking at the back of the market gave you some idea of which angle it was meant to be seen by. I managed to get through without any mistakes.
It was still really cold with an icy wind that felt like it was coming straight from the Antarctic so I put on my jacket.
Next was a 5 km walk on a nice gravel road with lots of cows and sheep in lovely green farmland for scenery. Along this stretch there were some showers which were heavy for a few minutes then petered out. Just enough to get my shorts wet and then dry before the next shower.
Then the track turned into more farmland. A Ute pulled up beside me and it was the Farm manager. He said he tries to talk to all the walkers. There doesn't seem to be many kiwis doing this walk from his encounters.
From the top of the hill was beautiful views of Kerikeri and the ocean, the Pacific, now I have nearly finished crossing the country.
On the way down from the hill I started getting a ping from the thigh of my left leg. I stopped and stretched but it got worse down each hill so I took a break. When I started again I was fine on the flats but it got worse on the downhills. Unfortunately there were several steep downhills at this stage. At the same time the were a quick succession of heavy colds showers with strong winds so I was not in a happy place.
Once at the bottom the track followed the river in a narrow band between the water and the fence. It did not look like the track is well used as it was a little overgrown in some places.
I was using my walking poles like crutches for the frequent little ups and downs and then I got a prickle in my right hand in a place that is on constant contact with the pole. Unfortunately I couldn't get it out so I had to modify how I held the poles. Not my day!
The track crossed a swing bridge (the first of many to come) and went under the highway Bridge before continuing beside the river though there were now frequent electric fences to deal with.
The path was not great until we got to the rich people's houses where their ride-on mowers cut the grass all the way to the river making for nice walking. The track then joined the Kerikeri River Walk. My thigh was sore on the flats by this stage so I was going pretty slowly. I was impressed at Rainbow Falls which were very picturesque. It was a lovely track, well maintained, wide and through bush with the river beside. Despite this I just wanted it to end.
I was originally going to push past Kerikeri and camp in Waitangi Forest but with my leg playing up I decided I would stop early in Kerikeri to rest it a bit. However this meant a 2 km walk to get to the town. I tried hitchhiking but no one was interested. As I walked through town I spotted the Pizza Hut so that was dinner sorted and I stopped at McDonald's for lunch. I eventually found a backpackers. They were full but the lovely lady, Faye, put me in her emergency bunk in her office. I was happy as I got a single room for only $27.
The backpackers was great and everyone very friendly. It is mainly full of holiday workers who stay for long periods so it was like a little community but still welcoming for the visitors, even old ladies like me. Faye was very friendly and helpful. She had done a bit of hiking herself including the coast to coast section I had just completed. I strongly recommend Keri Central Lodge to TA walkers.
After a relaxing night and after polishing off the whole pizza I climbed into bed and lights out at 2200, late by my now normal standards.
Hints of the day
1. Take care with navigation through the farmland. If you cannot see the next marker look at the back of the marker you are at. That will give you the direction the marker was meant to be seen from so you can concentrate on that direction.
2. Keri Central Lodge is a great place to spend the night in Kerikeri. Close to supermarket, Pizza Hut, Subway etc.