Day 5 – Ahipara to Kaitaia

Date: 30 September
Distance walked: 20.9km
Trail covered: kms 101.1 to 115.6
Weather: hot and humid
Scoops on my icecream: 2
Number of times I had to stop and move over for cars on the road: at least 100

The forecast rain overnight definitely occurred as it woke me up during the night.  But I was very surprised when I woke up at 9am that it was beautiful blue skies.  So I quickly packed up my stuff and got out of there trying to beat the rain forecast for today.

But who should I bump into by reception… Rhydian!  He arrived late last night and I just didn’t see him. And, I also bumped into the occupants of the tents. Their names were Pascal, Robert and Yan (I hope these are spelled right!), all German I believe. And they are all walking Te Araroa. I remember seeing Robert’s name in the visitors book at Utea Park.  I took their photo because I was sick of having blog posts filled with nothing but pictures of sand.

Robert, Pascal, Yan and Rhydian

I left before everyone else though because I was looking forward to a coffee and decent breakfast, and also I still wanted my icecream.  I walked the 1km to the town centre.  It felt weird to be walking down something other than a beach.

Ahipara

I ended up with coffee and scrambled eggs – nothing special but great after 4 days of oats and rehydrated meals.  It was humid and sticky by now – you can see all the mist and rain in the distance. The three German guys walked past as I was eating it, all dressed head to toe in rain gear.

Coffee and scrambled eggs

And I walked and got my icecream, at last!  I only got two scoops because I’d just had breakfast.  If I had’ve got this after my 32km walk yesterday, there would be at least 5 scoops on this cone.

Goody gumdrops and Mango Lassi flavours

I was still eating my icecream at 11am… so here’s my 11am picture:

11am picture – half-eaten icecream

Today’s walk was along the road between Ahipara and Kaitaia.  Normally you would walk through the Herekino Forest, but this is closed because of Kauri Dieback disease, so the alternative is on the road to Kaitaia. Rhydian was at the cafe as I left.  He is having a day off walking today I believe.  He suggested that the Germans were going to hitchhike to Kaitaia.  So I guess it was just me walking the road between Ahipara and Kaitaia.  I wasn’t looking forward to walking on the road, but on the plus side Google said the distance was only 13km when I previously thought it was 18km.

At first I was okay with the walk.  You had to stop and move over whenever a car came but the bank wasn’t too steep for the first part.  And the weather was starting to clear up.

The view I had for most of my walk today

A big herd of cows came wandering over to say hi.

Curious cows

But after a while things started hurting again, and the shoulder to walk on got narrower, and the bank got steeper. Each time a car came past, you had to stop and move down the bank, which was at a 45 degree angle a lot of the time.  Then when the car had passed, you had to haul yourself out of the bank. Then do it again, and again.  At one point I saw the sign to Herekino and Kaitaia.  At least I knew I was going the right way.

Sign to Herekino

I’ve seen this “Slow Down” sign all over Northland.  Luckily today, the cars seemed to be taking its advice.  Nobody was speeding down the road and most cars seemed to accept me being there.

I saw this sign which was mildly interesting.  It’s not “Te Araroa Road” but it’s close.

Araroa Road

As I walked into Kaitaia I saw the three German guys but they had taken a side street so they disappeared again. I wasn’t sure if they had hitchhiked or not. My mission was to go straight to the pharmacy and get some Voltaren and some plasters.  The woman there also convinced me to buy some cooling gel.  As you can see, my left foot was pretty swollen by now.

Swollen foot

Last night I booked a room in somebody’s house using AirBNB so I was now on my way there.  On the way, in the main street of Kaitaia, I saw Tania and Paul from Utea Park.  Tania yelled out to me and said hi, and then Paul showed up too. Apparently at the 11th hour they received word that they don’t have to close after all, and they’re staying open for another 4 months.  I don’t know exactly what’s going on with them and the council but whatever it is it is clearly long and complicated.  But I’m glad they’re staying open.

I checked into my accommodation.  The host is 77 years old and says that he likes having the company of other people because otherwise he’d be by himself.  As I sat down and rested for a while, he talked to me… a lot.  And the subject was primarily whether Filipino girls are better than Chinese girls.  I heard more than I ever wanted to on this subject.

I said I needed to go to Hunting & Fishing to get something to repair the hole in my tent’s mesh, so he offered to drive me there which was great.  He dropped me off there and I got that and some more dehydrated meals.  Then I walked to Pak n Save.  There I saw Pascal and Yan doing their shopping.  I can’t believe that despite knowing only a few people up this way, I saw all of them today by pure chance.  This region really is small.  Pascal said that they didn’t hitchhike, and because they didn’t organise accommodation they’re going to continue walking and camp somewhere. We did some shopping and parted ways.

I think I did too much shopping.  The next big town is Kerikeri which is 5 days away, so I needed to buy 5 days worth of food.  Here’s what I got (located on top of the stylie bedspread in my accommodation).  It was heavy.  Here’s what I bought from Pak n Save. I wonder if this is too much food – I also have three dehydrated meals which aren’t shown here.

5 days’ food?

Since I first got to Cape Reinga another craving I had was for Indian food.  Tonight was the night.  I walked into the main Kaitaia centre from Pak n Save which is on the outskirts of town, hoping to find Indian food.  Google said there were a couple but the first one I came to was closed.  Oh no!  Come to think of it, the whole town looks very dead.  Maybe nothing opens on a Monday?

Never fear, I found a place called Copper Chimney… and got a butter chicken.  It was excellent, and it came with the best Garlic & Cheese Naan I ever had.  It felt like it had a whole block of cheese in it. Today is possibly the first day since I started where I’ve eaten more calories than I’ve burned walking.

Butter Chicken – after I already ate a quarter of it

But they had no toilet… or they did but it was undergoing maintenance. I had to use the public restrooms around the corner which were not pleasant.

I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do tomorrow.  With my swollen foot I really should have a day off, although when I was walking around Kaitaia for 5 or 6km in my crocs with no pack on, I felt fine. I did feel a bit like perhaps I was going to get beat up wearing yellow crocs in Kaitaia, but to be honest nobody paid me any attention. I’m looking a bit ragged and unshaven by now so maybe I fit in up here.

I’ll make a decision about walking in the morning when I see how I feel. Maybe there’s somewhere close I can walk to tomorrow.

After dinner I walked back to house and heard more about Filipino girls, and also lots of conspiracy theories about cures for cancer which exist but are being forbidden by the government because cancer makes them too much money. AirBNB does have some interesting people as hosts.

And the rain never eventuated.  It was hot and sunny all day without a drop of rain.

Today's walk on the map (blue = Te Araroa, red = today's walk):

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