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Te Araroa – Downtown Auckland to Hamilton

December 8, 2014

or when the machine goes apeshit, it is time to SLOW DOWN!
 

 

After a couple of days off, I start again on Saturday 29th from Downtown Auckland. I am sharing this leg of the journey with Jörg. We have a bit of a slow start as we need to post our bounce boxes to the next stop over town (Hamilton) and we had kinda lost track of time being on the trail, and forgotten that most postshops are closed on weekends… That makes us walk all the way back to the Wharf to find what we need, and in a way it is good, because we can pick up the trail exactly where we had left it … The Trail in Auckland is more pleasant that I had imagined, taking hikers through Auckland Domain, the University Campus, Mount Eden, One Tree Hill (and the 600km mark!!!) and across the Mangare bridge ..Then it is a nice walk along the coast to Ambury Regional Park where we set up camp for the night. Staying there make it a short 20km day, and we get there early. I want to start this new part o the trail quite slowly as I am dealing with some slightly concerning hip pain … my body didn’t take the last few days of road walking so well, and the 2 days off in Auckland didn’t do the good I was hoping for …


We have avery early 6am start on Sunday 30th. I love the early morning walk, and the Watercare Coastal Track is a perfect place for early morning contemplation, and a sanctuary for so many birds, including a flock of Godwits, which is quite awesome to see! After 7km, here comes a sight that always brings a big smile on my face: a big blue housetruck is parked on the side of the trail…!! it is Jimi and Rory! So we all share breakfast and some good times together. As we walk on, the Trail takes the road to Auckland Airport, and it is quite fun to look up and see the planes fly right over us as we are walking … but I have a hard time keeping the fun going on the tedious and grey roads that take us all the way to Manukau holiday Park… Manukau … after 2 days of walking I feel a bit frustrated to still be so close to Auckland and still in urban area…i am already in need of Wilderness… I’ve had my share of noisy city…
But it is not over, as we have walk onwards on Monday 1st December… First day of Summer… but not a sunny day for me … There is about 15km of road merging getting out of Manukau and beyond to reach the first bit of forest … and this is when I hit a low… physically and mentally… probably the worst I have felt on the Trail so far… All that “feet hammering” road walk is really bad on my hip and the pain gets worse … the weather is overcast with showers, there is no room for pedestrians on the side of the road and the cars and trucks are rushing by at 100km/h, and despite Jörg’s company, i feel lonely… I am just over it today…and all I can think of goes along those lines “What the hell am I doing here?’ “Why am I doing this anyway?” … and then, when I am so close to crying and giving up, a blue housetruck appears around the bend in the incoming lane, and pulls over in front of me ….
Jimi!

 

He very generously welcomes us in his housetruck and offers us a cup of tea and a very much needed toast and jam … his perpetual high spirits and happy smile cheer me right up. Jimi always sees the bright side of the picture, and all my negative thinking seems to have completely vanish as I step out of the truck … The term “Trail Angel” couldn’t have fit any better than for Jimi at this moment…!! We say farewell to our wonderful friend, as he his heading north back to Whangarei for a while and we do not know when we wiill see him again. Back on the road, I feel so much better and the first bit of forest is near… beautiful Nikau Palms, Fern trees and Kauris … aaaahh… I can breathe again. After a bit more road we reach the Hunua Ranges and the walk by the Wairoa river is a refreshing gift. The weather clears up nicely in the end of the afternoon. We get off the trail to look for a campspot by the Hunua falls, and we find not only a beautiful campspot, but also Rory, who just got here with 3 other hikers: Eef (from Belgium), Serena (from Canada) and P-J (from Norway).That 6 happy campers!!!!!


Tuesday 2nd, I decide to sart the day in a different mind set. I go and sit in front of Hunua Falls for a long time, half in meditation, taking in the peace and the power of the waterfall … there is something so special about living outdoors… falling asleep in a tent by the sound of the waterfall, waking up in such a beautiful place, having time to take it in, having walked from so far to get there, and walking again to leave… leaving no trace behind of our passage there, it is like being a discrete guest of Mother Nature… This is why I do the Trail, this is why I hike. And I need to remember that in the hard times… I walk with Rory and Jörg today. The forest is gorgeous, the trail climbs up, giving nice views of the lakes formed by the Wairoa Dam and the Upper Mangatawhiri Dam. We reach the Lower Magatawhiri Campsite around 520pm, and pitch our tents under somes trees. The place is quiet and beautiful, with a stream to get our water from … another peaceful place to feel connected with Mother Nature…


The morning of Wednesday 3rd is foggy and cold, but the sun burns it out quickly. It is time to say farewell for a while to Rory. This is the point where he leaves the official route of the Trail to make his own, heading East into The Coromandel Ranges, and all the way South into the Kaweka and Ruahine Ranges, to catch up with the trail again in the Tararuas (where he will take the longer route there to reach Wellington). A very inspiring route, with a lot more mountains and a lot less roads than what we will take… And all this on his own, with no Trail community to help out, no trailnotes, no Jimi for support… that’s so brave of him! you can follow his progress (and make a donation for the Mental Health for whom he is foundraising) on http://getupnz.com/


Jorg and I stick to the official route of the trail and walk on, wishing all the best to our adventurer friend. We walk a bit with Eef, P-J and Serena, passing the 700km mark, Whoop whoop!!!


The next few days (4th and 5th of December) are a few short days and quite enjoyable along the Waikato River… I don’t want to rush. It could be easy to get caught in that “racing” mindset when talking with other hikers… the ones on a schedule because they have a plane to catch to go home for Christmas, the ones who have booked the Whanganui River Kayak trip already and have to be there in time, the ones who just walk fast and do 35km everyday… I already had a low time and don’t want to feel that way again, my hip is hurting a bit on the road walks, and it is grey and rainy as we reach Huntly…

 

so instead of getting caught into the rushing flow of TA hikers… I voluntarily SLOW DOWN…

 

and take a day off in Huntly (saturday 6th), take my time going through the stunning Hakarimata forest, hitch some road parts before Hamilton, enjoy the river walk to enter the city (Sunday 7th) and take another day off there on Monday the 8th. It is the unsual laundry/resupply/rest/blog update/real food routine of a zero day, punctuated by a physio appointment to have my hip checked out: In the worst case it is a bursitis. In the best case it is just some very tight muscles that create pain on the tendons around the hip… so I got some needles in my butt muscle to loosen all that up, and I need to do some stretching and a whole lot of exercices to get those glute muscles stronger! A strong butt is the key to a painfree thru-hike!!! I both case I can still walk, just have to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t get worse.

 

 

 

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