December 30th 2016
Brookby road – Hunua Falls
15 miles
Total distance: 417.7 miles

After a great nights sleep on a mattress with a duvet in a horse trailer, we packed up our stuff and went over to the main house where things had been laid out for us to help ourselves to breakfast. After bagels and boiled eggs from their chickens, Mike suggested we may want to stay there for the day and hang out by the pool, maybe play some tennis. Sophie casually dropped a hint that she had no plans today but we still said no, we have to continue walking. Why we said no I’ll never know. We should have said yes. Next time we are made a kind offer we will say yes. We have so much time. We worked out that we only have to do 15 miles a day to finish the trail by the end of march. So well say yes more.

It was a clear day and it was hot already at 8am. Mike, Sophie and next door Sam took us back to the spot they picked us up from last night so we could continue on from where we left off. We had an awesome time at their place. True trail angels.

We had to complete the road walk. We picked a good time to do it though. The road leads to a quarry and we have heard it can get really busy with big trucks and has a very small shoulder. But as it was that funny time between Christmas and new year everything has shut down and nearly everyone has gone on holiday, so the road was nice and quiet. It was so hot and we wanted some of yesterday’s clouds back. A car beeped at us and the two people inside were waving enthusiastically. I commented that it was odd those people were waving like that, it’s like they knew us, and Julia pointed out it was next door Sam and her father.

We walked past our trail angels house and still didn’t think to take them up on their super kind offer. We carried on and got the road walk over with and headed down a dirt road and onto the Kimpton track. My body became quickly unaccustomed to walking uphill after spending so much time walking along flat roads so going uphill was a struggle. The heat was making sweat roll down my face and the gorse bushes were making my legs itch (although not as bad as Julia’s as she reacts badly to the gorse). We went steeply up through tall grass and up into the forest. We saw another hiker – Daniel (Chopsticks) who hiked the PCT in 2015 but I don’t think I ever met him. He was carrying a very small pack and moving very fast. He hopes to complete the whole trail in 60 days. So far he has done in 2 weeks what we have done in 4 weeks, so he is on target.

As we moved further uphill the forest turned into jungle and it was full of hazards like tree roots and overgrown plants and vines. Once we made it to the top we got a great view out over Auckland and could even see back to the city. The descent into Clevedon was a complete change from the ascent the other side of the hill. This side was a giant staircase and my knees were really feeling it.

We saw Daniel at the bottom and we all headed into Clevedon together which is just a tiny bit off the trail. We sat and ate ice cream and drank soda and considered getting something to eat from the takeaway but I wasn’t that hungry after my egg breakfast, and we decided we needed to eat some of the food we are carrying to try and lighten the load. We both remarked at how heavy our bags felt today. I feel like someone had slipped some rocks into mine. I was very reluctant to leave the little village of Clevedon, it seemed very nice and I’m sure it had a lot more to offer than a convenience store and a takeaway. But it was 1pm and we still had 15 more miles to do to reach our goal of a 22.5 mile day. We had some big climbs ahead of us so it was time to get a move on. Daniel had already started hiking again so that’s probably the last time we will ever see him.

We had about 5 miles of road walking before the trail turned back into a track so we set off in the intense heat. We started out on McNicol road which was the best road we have been on. All of the drivers moved over to the other side to pass us and all waved. Very friendly people on McNicol road. As we hiked on I really started to lose the will. I just wanted to stop and lie down and go to sleep. I had absolutely no interest on carrying on, not today, not in a week, not to the end of the trail. I only wanted to do something that involved lying down and sleeping for a very long time.

When we finally got to the start of the Wairoa river track we had a sit down in the shade. We looked at the map. Still 10 miles to do and it was 3pm. Achievable, but not achievable with the way we were feeling. We looked ahead and readjusted our plans which meant we would now only have to do 3 more miles today. Such relief. We no longer had to move on quickly so we hung out there in the shade for an hour. We would head to Hunua falls and camp there. It isn’t clear whether you can camp there or not but we would risk it.

As we were lounging about on the side of the trail a couple – Matthew and Fengzhu – came by, they asked us all sorts of question about what we were doing and what kind of food we ate. They went back to their car and just as we were packing up to hike on we saw them coming back towards us. The asked us if we wanted to go to their house where we could take a shower and they would cook us a meal, then they would bring us back to the trail with enough time to make it to our camp spot.

Well, we couldn’t really turn that down could we! Not after regretting not spending the day with Sophie and Mike around the pool! So we gathered our things, walked the very short distance to their car and then drove for about 30 minutes to reach their house which was on the east coast. We were back by the sea again and this appears to be where everyone hangs out. It was packed with people. And across the water we could see Waiheke island.

At their house we met the cat, called Cat, and we took showers. Fengzhu cooked an amazing Chinese meal and Julia and I ate more than our fair share of dumplings. It was all so delicious. I think I have massively over indulged over the last 24 hours because I had to make a hasty visit to the toilet before we left. They drove us back to the trail and we couldn’t thank them enough for being so kind to us.

We headed back down the Wairoa river track and it was a bit of a struggle. I was too full of dumplings to be comfortable. My hip belt was squashing everything and I felt like I could have a nasty accident if I wasn’t careful. I did drink 2 large glasses of apple juice at their house and apple juice tends to have that effect on me so maybe it was that. We carried on along the track and it was washed away and steep in places. I was not having a good time! I was too full, I fell over a couple of times, I got a fly up my nose, I had to stop twice to wee and it was just to hot, although considerably cooler now than it was earlier in the day.

We made our way through the track and our onto a small road which we walked along until the turning to get to Huana falls. This is a well worn track so it was a lot wider and well maintained. Hunua falls is nice

We weren’t really sure if you could camp here. We heard other people had, but there was also a no camping sign. We waited until all the tourists left and pitched our tents in a little secluded spot next to a picnic table. We were both feeling dodgy in the tummy so it was nice to have a toilet around.


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