December 14th 2016
Okaura camp site – Whananaki
17.5 miles + 2 miles off trail. By mistake. 
Total distance: 194.5 miles

(A little tip for you: in Mauri a ‘wh’ is pronounced as an ‘f’)

We wake and pack up as normal and prepare to start hiking at 6am. I am bursting for a wee by this time so julia and I head off to the public loos down the road. Because we are off trail we are  hoping we can get a hitch back up to Russell road where the trail is rather than having to walk the extra 2km uphill. Kristen comes down and says she and all the others are getting a ride from the owner of the house to the start of the track so they don’t have to walk the road because they don’t want to. Kristen and Remy have sore knees.

We ask her if she can ask the lady to give us a ride to the top of the road before they go. The lady comes by to pick us up. Speed demon! Everyone drives so fast over here! We were back on the trail and back on the road. We chatted as we walked and even though the cars passed fast and close, there weren’t too many of them which was good. As we are walking along a lady shouts to us from a house ‘hello, are you walking the TA?’ Oh great I thought, she is going to invite us in for a drink or something. ‘You’re going the wrong way, you’ve missed the turn, it was about kilometre back that way’. Worse than road walking is walking off the trail on the road. We were bummed but all we could do was turn around and walk back. I guess we could have hitched but I don’t think that thought ever crossed our minds.

We get back on track and head down towards Helena Bay and find a picnic table to sit / lie down at. A bloody nice bloody man comes out to speak to us. And the reason he is called that is because number one we didn’t ask his name and number two he managed to get the word bloody into every sentence multiple times. But he was a very nice man and he filled our water bottles for us.

We carry on and the road is now a gravel / metal road. We start to pass lots of farmland where we see lots of cows, a very very well groomed, very white goat, fluffy sheep and horses which are lying down on their sides – we thought they were dead but then to our relief they moved, is it normal for a horse to lie down?! The farmland was really beautiful, rolling hills and a gentle climb up through them on the metal road. The higher we climbed the better the views became and we could see right back across the bays. Eventually we make it to the start of the Morepork track and find the other 4 waiting there, yard saleing their stuff. We join them and have a spot of lunch. I have an unbeatable cheese and crisp sandwich. Food with a crunch is very important.

We set off, back with Kristen, along the track and back into the forest. It gently rolls ups and down for a while and while the trail is dry and not muddy it still requires a lot of concentration on where you’re putting your feet. About an hour in I was concentrating so hard on where my feet were going I didn’t look up, and I didn’t see the huge tree branch that I then cracked my head on. The others behind me heard it and asked if I was ok. I said I was fine and carried on but after a couple of minutes the shock wore off and the tears sprang themselves on me. It really hurt a lot! I carried on through the tears. In hindsight I should have taken 10 minutes to sit down and gather myself, it was a hard knock to the noggin. But as it was I started to feel worse and worse. I over heated causing the lump to pulse angrily. I then began to feel nauseous and my throat began to constrict until it felt like it was breathing through a straw. It felt like a small panic attack. The leaking form the eyes wasn’t doing me any favours but I was powerless to stop it.

I stopped and let the others go by so I could sort myself out. I managed to breathe properly and cool myself down a bit and I carried on. The climb through the forest was super steep, it felt like it was almost vertical in some places. I moved slowly through, waves of tears coming and going. Not helpful to hill climbing. Every time I got hot or jarred my step my lump throbbed. Eventually we made it up and down the other side and we moved out of the dense forest to open fields, onto the road for a bit, then down through marshy land by the estuary, onto the beach and into Whananaki.

Our motivation to keep going and get there before 5:30pm was the shops opening hours and the fact the shop sold hot food. We didn’t get our fish and chips last night so tonight will be the night. When we got there they weren’t serving any hot food today or tomorrow! We aren’t having much luck! I got sprite and an ice cream instead.

We sat outside the store for a while not wanting to move anywhere but eventually we had to get up to go to the campground. NZ$15 to pitch our tents. NZ$0.50 for a 6 minute shower. Terrible wifi. All 6 of us made it to the campground, we pitched our tents and as we were eating dinner some kids came over and asked us if they could sing a song for us. It was really cute and as their confidence grew they started dancing and singing traditional Mauri songs and then they of course did the Hakka. That was awesome. Then they tried to teach us the Hakka, we were crap but it was fun trying. Such a fun unexpected treat.

We spoke to the kids about Mauri culture and it was so interesting. I’m very tired right now so I can’t remember most of it, but I do remember that each tribe has a mountain and a river associated with it. They pointed out their river and said it contains some of the largest stingrays there are. But stingrays are their protectors and they will not sting a Mauri.

We spent about an hour with them, they said they would love us to come to their school which was so cute, but we had to part ways in the end. They had very important playing to do and we had equally as important washing to do. I wasn’t going to bother with a shower, I don’t have any soap or even a towel, but decided I might feel better after a wash. I used my bandana as a towel and Sarah gave me some soap so it all worked out alright. I got my full 6 minutes worth.

My legs and head are very sore so I went to lie down at about 9pm. It’s now 10:15 and the very loud party, with very loud people and very loud music is still going on. It’s making it very hard to sleep. This is why it’s nice to camp out in the wilderness because it’s quiet. Towns are noisy.


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