Trip Report TA: North Island pt2

50% road, 50% beach

Clay, Michael and I stay up till 0200h finishing The Lord of the Rings! The following morning we take our time getting ready. The whole group goes into town for breakfast and we are joined by Josh, Max(Slayer), Dan, Hannah and two German girls from the hostel. Back at the hostel I also have a reunion with Laurel, Mikki and Dale!

View down to Pahia
Clay, Morgan, Brandon and Max

Leaving finally after midday we have just an easy gravel road alongside recently cut down forest plots. The day ends with us back along the coast in the town of Pahia.

The sky is grey and stormy as we leave in the morning. It's possible to kayak the bay for this section but the weather is not on our side. The coastal path is nice as we make our way to Opua and take the ferry across the bay.

Brandon and I lead the pack as we blast down the road. Usually there would be nice forest track to follow but a large closure due to private property concerns forces us to road walk. We realize the planning we had done the day prior for this section was incorrect and the distance we need to cover is way too much for today. It begins to rain and we try to figure something out, calling the others since we were all spread out at different paces.

We try to hitch to a nearby local who offers hikers a place to pitch tents for a fee. Luckily enough the local herself drives by on her way home and picks us up. Her name is Sheryl and she takes Brandon and I to her property, we pick up Michael along the way. She lives in a little valley and we have some tin sheds to hide underneath from the constant rain. Clay eventually makes his way here as well as the rain becomes heavier. Morgan is behind and unable to catch up this evening, so he stays with Lucas and Lara at an ecolodge some 10km(6mi) behind.

The rain stops by morning time and Sheryl drives us back up to where we were picked up. Despite it being a gravel road walk it's still quite beautiful as it meanders through choking thick forest on either side.

The entire day is spent road walking. In the afternoon my luck runs out. My pack's shoulder strap is suddenly separated from the main bag and now I have only one functioning shoulder strap to hold the load. I calm myself down and sit down on the side of the road to try and mend it. I spend an hour working with my insufficient needle and thread but I manage to sew it back enough to hold for now. This is the first trip I've brought a repair kit and I feel extremely justified now!

The plan for tonight is to stay at a campground in Oakura Bay which is some 3km(2mi) off trail. About 0.3km(0.2mi) from reaching the campground Morgan passes by in a hitch so I join him. I tell them the story of my pack breaking and the driver, Mackie, offers me some new needles which I gladly accept since I broke one during my repairs.

Oakura Bay crew
Michael, Me, Philip, Brandon and Clay

Eventually the core group arrives: Clay, Brandon, Morgan, Michael, Rachel. There are two new comers: Philip from Sweden and Spencer(The Mountain) from BC. A torrential downpour breaks out for about an hour as we hide in the common area and pass the evening.

Oakura Bay view

The morning starts off clear as we continue our seemingly endless road walk. Sure enough, the rain comes again. It is light but doesn't break as the we finally have a bit of track to follow through beautiful winding overgrown forests.

My jacket eventually soaks right through and I begin to shiver. There is a small barn off to the side of the track at one point and I decide to take a break inside. To my surprise it's already occupied: Dale, Max, Josh, and Iris(Fearless) from Switzerland are inside taking a snack break. Eventually the boys catch up and we decide that we have had enough of the rain. At the next road junction we hitch to Whananaki Holiday Park.

There are two groups of hikers we meet at the holiday park, all American. Michael(Draggin), his brother Jeff and his girlfriend Emma. As well as the hikers I spotted a week ago passing the Hare Krishna Sanctuary: Ian(Kingo) and Lauren(Grit). All the hikers that arrive are put into a large cabin with no power. The owner comes by to chain up all the cupboards. Apparently we are not entirely welcome as guests.

This morning starts with a nice little coastal walk sprinkled with beautiful birds but then leads back to road. We take an alternate path choosing to walk through the town of Matapouri where we have a tasty and cheap pile on of fish and chips.


We make it to Ngunguru by the afternoon where we have organized a boat ride across the river with a local, James. There are eighteen of us that need to be ferried so James makes a handful of trips back and forth. On the other side James has built modern wooden cabins and a massive sheltered kitchen/common area that we can use for a fee. In the evening James gives us a lecture detailing the next section which crosses Māori land as well as includes specific tide times for some estuaries.

James gives us a briefing
Clay, Kingo, Rachel, Emma, Iris, Joyce, Dale, Morgan, Max, Bevin, Michael, James, Draggin, Grit and Philip

We start early today and we have a schedule to keep. The first water crossing(Horahora River) goes well as we all take off our shoes and the water level itself is just below crotch level. At the end just before reconnecting with land there is a stretch of iron rich black mud that we must step through. I am thoroughly caked in it but am able to wash off in a slightly dirty puddle at the trailhead.

Estuary crossing

The next crossing is of the Taiharuru River and is much longer than the Horahora. It is much of the same regardless, shoes off and just below crotch high water. Thankfully we stuck well to the timings that James gave us. More black muck waits at the end of the crossing and this time I wash it off in a cow trough.

Estuary crossing pt2
Michael and Morgan
Taking a break
Brandon and The Mountain

With perfect afternoon weather the day ends with an extended beach walk. Unlike Te-Oneroa-a-Tōhē, Ocean Beach's sand is soft and it drains my will to live. Everyone eventually reaches a campsite at the end of the beach to end the day.

I'm excited to start the day. The track brings us up and over the Te Whara Track which I had previously hiked in 2020. The views are stunning and we climb the Bream Head, a rocky pillar giving a 360deg view over to the east. We make our way to Reotahi Bay where we have organized another boat crossing and we run into a South Korean hiker, Soo.

Bream Head

On the other side of the bay we have a long beach and then road walk into Ruakaka. I resupply in town and then meet all the other hikers at the Holiday Park. There is a nice reunion with Lucas and Lara who I hadn't seen since Kerikeri.

The day starts with more beach walking along Bream Bay and into the small town of Waipu. It has an interesting history as it was built up by a bunch of colonizers from Nova Scotia. After having a few pies and colas we continue on and up a shallow climb.

At the apex of the climb there is a newly built gazebo structure with a pit toilet and rain water collector. The hillside seems recently cut and there is plenty of space to pitch tents. There are two French hikers already there who greet us: Gourmet and Mr.B. We settle in for the evening and have an amazing view all the way back to the Bream Head which we climbed the day prior.

In the morning we descend from the hills down to Mangawhai Heads, another spot I had hiked back in 2020. It seems to be quite the tourist spot as hoards of families and couples are out and about. In town we get some delicious Indian food and siesta for a few hours.

Mangawhai Heads

Mostly on roads for midday, we are put back on a beach for the end of the day. We meet a new hiker, Isabella from the Netherlands. Despite signs to the contrary we setup up our tents in an empty patch of grass as a light rain begins to fall. A security officer comes by to tell us that we cannot camp there but he lets us stay once we mention that we walked here from Te Rerenga Wairua and had no means of going any further today. The evening passes in good company and we get a little more rain overnight.

No Camping
Rachel breaking the rules

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