8-14 October 2019
I visited the physio on my first rest day. She said that my injuries could have been a lot worse. A bit of strapping tape and a bit of rest and with any luck I’ll be ready to go again in a few days was what she told me. However as the week went on I felt like I needed a whole week to rest. Partly because I was in more pain than expected, but also the weather forecast for 13 and 14 October was bad, and my friend Nick was in Kerikeri on the 14th so that seemed like the right amount of time to rest.
After the physio I went and saw Rhydian who was at a nearby campground and had a quick chat. He’s gonna be way ahead now. It was nice walking with him up until now, hopefully I’ll catch up to him again. But I won’t be rushing anymore, being injured sucks and I feel like I was lucky this time so I will be taking it easy.
Back on Day 10 I found an orange DOC triangle in Puketi Forest, buried in the mud and no help to anyone. So I took it, and now it adorns the front of my pack along with my TA patch.
Nobody will miss this one orange triangle that I took. There were heaps of them that had fallen off trees. And the best part is that now people will always know the way if they are right behind me. “Trust me, I know what I’m doing!” Unless I look lost of course.
Ran into a guy called Etienne from France who was on his way to Cape Reinga to start the trail. It’s funny that I ran into him at the Kerikeri bus station but he had actually been hitchhiking up from Auckland. We had a chat and he too (like every other hiker I seem to meet) was hoping to discard some things from his pack before starting. His pack was surprisingly heavy when I lifted it given that it was only 48 litres (compared to my 60).
I took the bus to Whangarei because I know a couple of people there and more stuff is happening. I couldn’t stay in Kerikeri for a week. It’s nice enough, but it is pretty dull and the reactions I got from the people there were interesting. When you look all ragged like me, but you’re carrying a pack and walking poles, everyone is real nice. When you look ragged and don’t have your walking stuff, people actively avoid you.
“Excuse me!” I said to an older couple walking by. No reaction at all. I think perhaps I look homeless and stinky and generally like somebody to be avoided. I guess that would probably happen anywhere. I probably do it to people in Auckland who I don’t want to talk to.
This was my home for 5 out of the 7 rest days – this room in the Whangarei Central Holiday Park. A nice enough place with nice enough staff and a comfortable bed. There was construction going on which started each day at 8am (grrrrr) and twice I turned on the tap to find no water. But it was somewhere to sleep, not too expensive and walking distance to town… just not for the first two days when I could barely walk. I spent 23 hours a day in this room each day and did start to go a little stir-crazy. At least I had a little bit of human interaction down here when my friends visited.
Someone suggested I get some Arnica cream and tablets. I’m not normally a big believer in homeopathy but given how much I’ve invested in the TA I was prepared to try anything and so I got them. It’s hard to say if they helped or not. Arnica certainly smells a bit unpleasant. And two days after buying these all these little red ants found the cream. They seemed to really like the cream as they were all over the place.
It was hard watching Facebook posts about people who were looking for kayak buddies from Paihia, as that’s the next bit I have to do. I really wanted to join them, it would be so much better than being stuck inside. I am looking really forward to the kayak. However I stuck with my rest days, because by Rest Day 4 I was able to walk without hurting too much and I was actually optimistic that I might be able to continue if I waited a bit longer.
On Saturday I was feeling good so I went for a walk into the centre of Whangarei to buy some new shoes. I have liked my Salomon Speedcross 4s but wished not too long after wearing them that they were a size bigger. When my foot started hurting last week they were uncomfortable and by Day 12 I was dreading putting them on and was walking everywhere in my crocs because of it. Plus the physio said it would be better if I had boots to support my ankles. So I went into Kathmandu Whangarei to see what they had. I was worried their selection would be small, especially after going into the new Kathmandu Newmarket in Auckland and seeing how small their selection was, but the Whangarei store was huge and had a big selection of shoes.
There were some Salomon Speedcross 4s in the clearance that were the size that I wanted, but I ended up going with the Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 hiking boots which were double the price but felt nice to walk in and didn’t hurt my feet. They were US size 12 rather than size 11 which my shoes were.
My next trip was to the post office to post my Speedcross 4s back home. I’ll still be able to use them in future, just not on long hikes. I hope the post office don’t reject them for being too stinky. They smell like swamp… but at least they’re dry, so they shouldn’t go mouldy.
I also bought a lightweight wireless folding keyboard from The Warehouse. This is very much a luxury item but it makes it so much easier to write blog posts. I don’t know how much it weighs but it is less than my phone. It seems to work quite well but the T and the V are small because they are on the fold and I often mistype them.
Monday I was on the bus again to Kerikeri. The weather was dismal outside so I’m glad I’ve got one more night before restarting walking.
Met two more people on the bus who were headed to Cape Reinga to start their Te Araroa journey, Roy and Sirkka. In fact I had seen them camping opposite me last night at the holiday park, but I didn’t approach them there because Whangarei is not on the trail and so I figured they were just regular tourists, not TA walkers. But it was good to chat to other people and hopefully I could give them a tiny bit of my knowledge. They didn’t actually know how to get to Cape Reinga so I told them about the options that I knew about.
Turns out they went into the information centre by where the bus stops in Kerikeri and they managed to get a deal with one of the sand dunes tour companies to transport both of them from Kaitaia to Cape Reinga for $60, even I’m surprised how cheap that is. So if you get to Kerikeri and haven’t sorted your transport to the Cape then it looks like it’s worth taking a quick visit to the information centre.
My blister has largely gone but the skin that remains after it has healed is a bit of a nightmare. You can click here if you really want to see it 😁 it’s very bumpy and itchy.
I spent the few hours between when the bus dropped me off and when my friend Nick arrived in Kerikeri in The Blue Cafe because of the rain, and once that closed, in the pub across the road (Rocksalt Restaurant & Bar). I read on Facebook that no kayaks were being rented out to people from Paihia today because of all the rain, and I can see why.
Before the pub I went to Countdown to get 5 days worth of food and that’s when it really started pouring with rain. I got drenched in the short distance between Countdown and the pub, just a few hundred meters. Luckily I was wearing my rain clothes, and when I got to the pub, they turned on the fire for me and I had my pint of stout so I was happy. It was Murphy’s and not Guinness but as they say, beggars can’t be choosers.
Nick turned up eventually and we had dinner. It was the first time I had seen anyone from my “old life” since the first day and I was happy (maybe the three pints of beer made me a bit happy too). He was looking forward to his big stone grilled steak. I was very happy with my satay chicken burger.
Nick’s motel room had an extra bed so I got a free night’s accommodation tonight (thanks I owe you one!!). The crazy weather continued into the night and I went to sleep wondering how the weather would be when I woke up in the morning for the anticipated restart of my Te Araroa journey.