Day 11 – Pukete Recreation Centre to Waipapa

Date: 6 October
Distance walked: 22.3km
Trail covered: kms 197.5 to 218.1
Weather: sunny with clouds
Number of oranges I got handed by strangers: 9

Got woken up at 7am to a cacophony of birdsong. I didn’t mind at all, there are definitely worse things to wake up to.

I finally got to see what was around at the Puketi Recreation Centre since I arrived after dark last night. There’s a hut with mattresses and a fireplace and 6 or 8 beds, but you have to book that. There’s a camping area and clothesline and sink and a few picnic tables, one under a shelter.

I haven’t sat down on a bench to eat my breakfast in a while now. It’s so nice, you really start to appreciate the small things when doing Te Araroa.

Just like last night’s attempt at photographing the night sky, I’m never going to get a good sunrise photo with just a phone camera, but I attemted it anyway.

I was still the only one here. Rhydian hadn’t turned up, which I expected, I hope he’s alright, I’m sure he is, I just remember how scary “death ridge” was between the river and the kauri stairs yesterday.

This is a wonderful spot. If there was a shop anywhere around I’d probably stay here all day. But I’m very low on food now, so need to get on to Waipapa. I have an AirBNB booked there.

Not long to go before i pass the 200km mark. That will be exciting. I think it’s across farmland somewhere.

As I was leaving I saw there was actually another tent set up near the entrance. Weird, given that I didn’t see or hear anyone all night. Nobody used the bathrooms during the night that I could tell, and nobody was around in the morning. It’s not Rhydian’s tent, his was green.

A tent hiding away that I never saw at first

I was looking out for the 200km point. It occurred to me that the 100km point from Day 4 was unlikely to ever change, but this one would. Last year when the Puketi Forest was closed, the detour would have caused the 200km mark to be elsewhere. But for me, this is where it was today. It was just before the farmland I had to cross. It was on an otherwise uninteresting piece of gravel road. Still, I tried to etch 200 on the ground to mark the occasion.

200km mark passed!

The Puketotara Landcorp farm was soon after. It forms part of Te Araroa and is signposted as such. Lots of sheep in this farm.

Entrance to Puketotara Farm

My 11am picture was coming up to one of the many gates and watching the sheep run away. They are much more timid here than the ones on One Tree Hill in Auckland where you can go right up to them.

Cross at gates like these

These three sheep just stared and stared:

Whatchu lookin at

I got a bit lost at one point in the farm. There weren’t many orange markers and at one point I crossed a swampy stream, only to realise I had gone the wrong way. So I had to cross a second swampy stream, but then didn’t know where I was. After crossing two more streams, I finally got out of the farm. I have no idea if you actually needed to cross any streams or not. They were covered in grass so you couldnt see how deep they were. The first one was almost up to my waist. On the plus side they did clean my muddy shoes!

After the farm was more seemingly-never-ending gravel road. This particularly monotonous bit is called Mangakaretu Road and was where I lost the will to keep walking and so sat on the right hand side having lunch.

Another never-ending gravel road

Further on Mangakaretu Road, outside a house I ran into Hana and Rachel who lived at the house. They were really nice and offered me some oranges from their tree. I sat down to eat them on the next corner but I couldn’t peel them without making a giant mess so I ate them once I got to the Airbnb. Thanks girls, they were very sweet and juicy and I loved them.

Oranges given to me

The path through another farm was closed, and so a small detour down State Highway 10 was required. This was a busy road, much busier than State Highway 1 from last week but it was mostly okay except for one bridge which had no bit to walk on at all, only the two traffic lanes and that’s it… and there were a lot of cars. I had to basically walk up to the bridge, wait until no cars were coming and run for my life to the other side.

But then it was a short stroll by the river to my Airbnb. The owners took me into Kerikeri to go to Countdown and after that invited me to have a roast chicken dinner with them, which I did. People up here are so nice.

So this day was a fair bit less epic than yesterday, but I made some good distance. I might walk a short distance tomorrow but I need to rest my sore knee and both my feet. They really hurt now, and one of my little toes has a blister on it almost the size of the toe itself. I didnt even notice until I was bandaging up other cuts I got from the farmland grass. I took a photo but I will spare you the details 😁

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

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