December 11th 2016
Puketi forest HQ – Stone Store 
15.7 miles
Total distance: 138.7 miles

It rained in the night and when the alarm went off I reset it for half an hour later. I didn’t hear anything from Julia’s tent and figured she must be as tired as I was! We slowly packed up, reluctantly putting on our wet shoes and socks. We got going at 7:30am. 

It was pretty windy and a little chilly as we set out, most of the morning was spent travelling through farmland. A lot of the TA had to be negotiated to go through private land. Very nice of people to let us walk, or ‘tramp’ as they say here, across their fields, it makes camping options fairly limited though. A lot of people have gotten fed up with people leaving their rubbish and waste behind and rightly so. 

We start with a road walk and I can’t believe how fast some of the cars are travelling along the gravel road! We then turn into the fields and follow the fence lines for a bit. We climb stiles over the electric fences, the bottom steps are always so high up! The weather is very changeable, we get wind and rain, then a bit of sideways rain, the  blue skies and sunshine, then a bit more rain. Thankfully the wet stuff doesn’t last for too long and it’s just the wind we have to contend with. We come to an area where the trail goes straight through the middle of the field, the cows in the next field get curious and come over to have a look at what we are doing. We find ourselves knee deep in really stinky swampy bog. We check the GPS and we are right on trail so we push on through. It’s gross! We go through that and then through a patch of scratchy gorse which was unpleasant in shorts. 

The orange markers are few and far between today and this is the first day where I’ve had the GPS out continually checking we are on the right course. We come to another dirt road and there is a nice surprise, a bit of trail magic. A bag of oranges and a board for us to sign, it was nice to see names of some of the people ahead of us. 

Even though the fields are fairly flat it’s slow walking because they are so lumpy but as we continue we start to get views down to the bay of islands so we can see the sea and the rolling green hills all in one picture perfect view. We then come to a field full of cows, they all gather around the stile we have to cross. We encourage them to move out of our way and they start to follow us down the hill. Cows love to follow you! 

We finish with the farmland and join the Kerikeri river track, the track follows the river which is on one side and an electric fence is very close on the other side. It’s covered in wild flowers which are so beautiful. We start walking through private land again and pass some incredible houses, we are basically walking through the end of their gardens which is a little odd, I felt a bit like I was trespassing a few times, but that’s where the trail goes! The track then becomes a more purpose built tourist track and leads down to rainbow falls which is lovely, everybody loves a waterfall! We start to see lots of day trippers and we know we are getting close to the stone store – New Zealand’s oldest stone building. 

We cross the bridge and see Sue and Kristen who have come to pick us up. We were really looking forward to an ice cream at the cafe there, it was about 2pm and the only things I had eaten were a cereal bar and a chocolate bar. 

But Sue knew of a better place to get ice cream and oh man was she right. I ordered a double scoop chocolate/ hokey pokey and it was bigger than my head. I couldn’t hold the cone and lick the ice cream as the potential for disaster was extremely high so the nice man in the shop gave me a tub to put it in. I thought I had made a ridiculous decision (not that I knew how big it was going to be when I ordered it!) and I thought I wouldn’t possibly be able to eat it all, but I nailed it. And I didn’t even feel full or sick at the end! 

We got back to Marvin and Sues house and exploded our packs, drying all our damp gear and finally washed ourselves and our clothes. Sue gave us some spare clothes to wear, perfect trail angels! We were able to hose down our shoes and get rid of all the mud. 

At 6pm Shannon and Albert, Peter and Marion – who we met the first time we were here – came over for a delicious dinner, a progress report and a slide show of our pictures. It was a great evening, so nice to see them all again and tell them our stories. Shannon made a huge salad with lots of veggies in as she is one of the many people who are concerned about my diet! 

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I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps. 

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