Day 24 – Whananaki to Nikau Bay Campsite

Date: 19 October
Distance walked: 25km, plus a bit on a boat
Trail covered: kms 313.8 to 340.9
Weather: pouring with rain overnight but sunny during the day
Milkshake satisfaction level: extreme

The wind and rain were very strong overnight and that made it hard to sleep. Nick and Robert left early again. But before they left we confirmed we would meet at Nikau Bay Campsite which was just past Ngunguru. The owner of the camp will pick you up in his boat and take you across the water.

I left a bit later so that I could catch up on blog posts and dry out the tent fly. Luckily the tent itself remained largely dry.

I walked with Jeremy all day, the other hiker who arrived at Whananaki late last night. He told me that he had also hitchhiked a lot of the roadwalking because he had a time limit which doesn’t allow him to walk every kilometer of the trail.

Our first mission was across the southern hemisphere’s longest foot-bridge which I saw yesterday.

Footbridge information. Apparently it was built to allow schoolchildren from across the inlet to get to school.

It was interesting when you were right out in the middle of the water. I hope whoever built this had some qualifications.

Whananaki footbridge

It was narrow and so when people came the other way, someone had to wait in one of the little passing bays they had available.

Jeremy, my walking buddy today, on the footbridge

I liked some of the baches on the south side of the inlet. Some of them were quite rickety.

Baches on the south side

After the bridge was the Whananaki Coastal Walkway.

Coastal walkway

It was mostly through farmland.

The first section of coastal walkway

Here’s today’s cow picture. I don’t know if this will become a regular thing, but we did see this cow trying to stealth camp. We think he was trying to get out of paying the DOC camping fees.

Stealthy cow

Here’s my 11am picture – we were partway along the coastal walkway by this point.

11am picture

There were lots of nice views from here.

Jeremy and I talked a lot the whole day. He is from California and he went to the California Institute of Technology, which is the same place the characters in the TV show The Big Bang Theory work.

Panoramic view of the coastal walkway

Once off the walkway, I came across this interesting series of “road edge marker” posts. How clearly does one need to define the edge of one’s driveway? I assume it’s to stop people driving in the garden, but then it kind of ruins the garden!

Some kind of art installation, perhaps?

There was a bit of roadwalking to get to Matapouri, one of two towns with stores we would pass through. I was looking forward to getting a milkshake again. But first we had to get there down a standard winding road with no shoulder. At least we could pass some beaches on the way.

Beach

At a few of these spots you are allowed to camp for a maximum of one night. I had planned to camp in one of these spots yesterday but I was exhausted and stopped at Whananaki Holiday Park, I was glad I did, because I got to charge my devices, do my laundry and have a shower.

We even got to walk down two of the beaches. It was nearing high tide but that wasn’t a problem.

Beach walk

Matapouri was 12km from our starting point today so it didn’t take too long to get there. The milkshake was one of the better ones. I got orange today. It had the right amount of flavouring, was not too runny and was cold. Jeremy got a milkshake too and agreed with me. He also got a battered hoki which he said was great.

The only other thing I was looking forward to was some fresh fruit. It’s normally too heavy to carry and so it was a special treat today.

Fresh fruit on one of the kiwiana-themed tables outside the dairy

Their selection was limited so I got two bananas and a tomato. I’ve never eaten a big tomato by itself before, but it tasted excellent. I think I really need to make a rule that when I stop at shops, if I have food in my pack already then the only thing I’m allowed to buy from the shops is a drink and fruit. And maybe one treat as well – although no treat this time.

If you didn’t camp in one of the spots by one of the bays, then that was the last chance you have before Ngunguru, as this sign just out of Matapouri told us.

No camping from here on, lest you ruin the trail for others

Most of the rest of the way was a forest track. I did encounter this though. Normally the orange markers are directional and they point to where you’re supposed to go. So what do I do here?

Error. Does not compute

I guess the trail ends here for me then. Lucky Jeremy was there today, to guide me the correct way. Actually he was good at spotting markers while we were talking, whereas I am not good at doing two things at once.

A fairly typical forest track

The track was a fairly standard forest track, a little bit of up and down, up to a 130m elevation. I liked it, it was just what I felt like today. We also met up with a local at one of the stiles, who walked with us for a bit of the walk.

Tane Moana information

At one point it was a quick 30 second detour to see Tane Moana. There wasn’t a lot of information about this tree at the site but the local who was with us told us that it’s slightly smaller than Tane Mahuta, the largest Kauri tree in New Zealand. Although this one looked a lot bigger because you could walk right up to it.

Tane Moana – a pretty impressive Kauri tree

From here it was a nice easy 4WD track walk down to a gravel road.

It went through a bit of farmland before the road, where I saw a horse eating next to an interesting light fixture.

Another good looking horse, also worthy of a tax break

While walking down here we were talking to our local friend about how to pronounce the next town, Ngunguru. He wasn’t sure, he lived elsewhere apparently. My understanding is it is noo-noo-roo. At the campsite last night Robert called it nun-garoo, like a kangaroo but the “nun” version. I thought that was a very Aussie way of saying it.  Some signs in the area just shortened it to “Ngu”.

As we walked into Ngu-nungaroo, I was fascinated by this huge house up on the hill. I had no idea what sort of building this was or why they needed so many rooms and levels.

One very large house

The town had a fish and chips store and a general dairy. It even sold Lotto tickets which I haven’t seen since Kerikeri. Jeremy bought some cheese and some bread. I was very jealous, but I don’t want to carry those bulky and heavy items. All I bought was a Whittakers sante bar and a Blue V.

While he was doing that, I sent a text message to James, the owner of the Nikau Bay Eco-Camp which is across the inlet. He said if we text him when we’re at the store, he will come and get us in his boat at a spot 1km further down the road.

The boat launching spot (low tide)

It’s official, it’s even got the Te Araroa badge on the little jetty. The cost is $10, or for $30 you can get the transport and a room in a cabin. I opted for the second option as we have an early start tomorrow as the next section of trail is only passable at low tide, unless you want a massive road detour.

On our way

It was a short but nice boat ride across the inlet. I had to take a selfie to mark the occasion, however it’s hard to look good when the wind is blowing in your face and the sun is shining so you can’t see the phone screen.

The best selfie I could get

Turned up at camp at 5:30pm, and true to their word there was Nick and Robert.

Now on the other side

Jeremy left us at this point, he wanted to get some more mileage in. By 6pm Nick and Robert were heading off to bed. They had their tents set up so that meant I had the cabin with at least 8 beds all to myself.

This place is quite nice, it has a few buildings, a shower and toilet and gas for the kitchen, but no electricity.

Looking out towards the fireplace

There was also this cool dog whose name was Rusty. I tried to get him to look at the camera but he would not stop staring at this corner, for what felt like hours.

No idea what’s up there!

Here’s the little room with the beds:

And here are the beds themselves. It’s a nice little cabin but it’s very small and cozy so hard to get a good picture.

8 beds – all to myself

If you need to pee, you do it against a tree. Hey, that rhymes.

Hey boys!

Coming up tomorrow is a crossing that can only be done at low tide. It is 5km from the camp and low tide is 6am tomorrow so that means a 5am start… or we wait around until 5pm. I’m looking forward to getting some decent mileage tomorrow and Nick and Robert are early risers, and it would be good to have them there for my first real estuary crossing. So a 5am start it is.

There are a couple of other water crossings too. Luckily James has a massive wall of information covering all the crossings in great detail.

Here’s a closer version of the text if you want to read it. Click on the image for a larger version.

One thing that is good is that we’d heard that it costs $100 to get a boat to cross the upcoming bit of water between Whangarei Heads and Marsden Point… although that must be outdated because there are two guys who will take you across for $10-ish. They’re retired apparently so don’t even need too much notice. Amazing what a bit of competition can do, I suppose!

I didn’t sleep that well last night due to the wind and rain, so I better get an early sleep tonight. It’s now 9pm and I’ll be sleeping very soon.

 

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

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