Day 13 (Sun 22 Nov): Rest day, Paihia
Distance walked: around 6k. Calories consumed: Excessive.
Word of the day: Faineant (noun), layabout, lazy sluggard
Sunday, the day of rest. Ideally, we would have been faineants and lounged around the holiday park all day, but we needed to restock on some extra food from Paihia, so that meant walking back along the coastal track to raid the local supermarkets. While we were there, we decided we should try out the Paihia cafe scene, and had coffees and treats at the Third Wheel. I had what might have been the best cinnamon scroll ever, warm and buttery and soft and sticky with sugary icing.
It started to rain just as we wanted to walk back (after eating sandwiches on the shore), so we were forced to hang around and have massive icecreams from one of the many icecream shops. I swear the lady serving the icecreams scooped the equivalent of a small tub onto our waffle cones. After that we were both mildly full, which hadn’t happened even after we consumed an entire packet of gingernut biscuits last night (once they were open, there seemed no good reason to stop eating them).
Back at the holiday park, we upgraded to a cabin (thanks to Prime Pump, Tony’s former employer, who gave him a whole variety of gift vouchers to use on our travels. I can wholeheartedly endorse this company for anyone with a sewage pumping requirement, or a need to divert a stream or drain a construction site.) The sun came out in force in time to dry our washing, so we are all ready with clean clothes and socks for the next stage of the adventure. 250k done, 2,750k to go.
Difficult decision of the day: I have three pairs of underwear, and I usually wash them at the end of the day, and they have dried quickly even when we are late to camp. But I neglected to do washing the last couple of days, meaning that this morning, I had to decide whether to walk to Paihia in used, sweaty panties or go commando. I made the liberating choice.
Joke of the day: Tony’s sandals, proudly advertising they are waterproof.
Day 14 (Mon Nov 23): Paihia to The Farm
Start time 7.15am, finished 3.30pm, 28-30k (not 100% sure as this is a new part of the TA and isn’t yet on the TA app)
Word of the day: Crepuscular, active at dusk and dawn
We hit the tract early as we didn’t have to pack down the tent – just rolled out of bed, put the kettle on, had breakfast and we were ready to go. We finished the coastline walk that had started at Paihia and ended at Opua, where we paid the handsome sum of $1 to cross over to Okiato on the vehicle ferry, which took about 10 minutes. This was the first capital of NZ, but it is hard to imagine how it could have functioned as a capital in the 2000s. Although maybe if all the politicians worked in the Bay of Islands they would be more chilled out.
Back on the tarsealed road until we turned off onto a gravel road that took us up and over Russell Forest. The TA trail previously took a tramping track through Russell Forest but this was closed by the local iwi due to kauri dieback disease just over a week ago, so we were on one of the alternative tracks. The bonus part of the forest closure was that there was almost no traffic on this road – just a handful of motorcyclists passing by. We still saw plenty of healthy-looking kauri on the side of the road – as well as the equivalent of a large house’s contents, tipped down the steep banks – mattresses, cars, a sofa, kitchenware.
We ended up at The Farm, on an unspecified location, somewhere north of Helena Bay, aka the middle of nowhere. We set up the tent in a paddock out the back, along with two sisters who are doing the Northland part of the trail, with a glossy-flanked hungry horse circling around to munch on the tastiest bits of grass and clover and the usual crepuscular sandflies. The farmstay/backpackers part of The Farm includes a long timber building, with multiple lounges, hot showers, communal dinners (which we skipped as eating the food in our packs is a priority activity in order to reduce our pack weight) and an endless parade of guests, workers, children, cats, dogs and chickens.
Wildlife moments of the day: First time I’ve seen weka roadkill. As we were eating lunch on the side of the road, a bonny wee stoat bounced out of the grass beside us and bounded nimbly across the road, diving into the scrub and forest beyond. Murder and mayhem no doubt ensued.