Day 27: Christmas Day. 75 degrees and sunny on the beach in Whitianga, New Zealand. I made jalapeno cornbread and a ton of salad as my American dishes to share with everyone tonight, then spend some time catching up with friends and family who were still on the 24th. I hung out with the other Swedish couple that is in the same bunkroom I’m staying in, then started an early Christmas dinner with everyone there and we all talked about our different Christmas traditions. I realized that although I had cleaned all my clothes, I had forgotten to wash the dirty socks that I had left drying out on the outside of my pack, still caked in mud and funk, so I spent some time hand washing them.… Read more
Day 20: Woke up around 6:30 to a great breakfast spread at Dennis’ and made arrangements with him about picking up my packraft. We all went out to the Te Araroa Trailhead in Hunua Ranges and started hiking along the Wairoa River, feeling a bit slow to start, tempted by chilly swimming pools all along the river, but quickly gaining speed and we were flying down the trail the rest of the day. There were many people on the well groomed and graded gravel Massey Track, with an excellent view of Hunua Falls along the way.
There were many birds to be seen, including a morepork that flew out of the canopy, a silvereye that posed just right for a photo, and the complex songs of tuis and the loud wing flaps of the NZ pigeons could be heard.… Read more
Day 14: I woke up first, around 7, when the rain had stopped, but the drops were still falling from the trees. As we ate breakfast, the German couple passed us, and were very surprised to hear our story about James, because they had nothing but good things to say about him, his hospitality, and his campground. Perhaps this was because they paid him upfront? Probably not, but our experience made me wonder. Once we were packed up and walking, it didn’t take long to get to the road, but when Sarah and I stopped to stick our thumbs out, Magnus was still undecided about leaving the Te Araroa.… Read more
Day 9: We wake up early, eating and packing up quickly from our stealth camp so we can get out of there before being noticed. Mosquitoes were pretty bad last night and really chewed up my legs, so I thought for a few days that I had walked through some poisonous plant. We resupplied at the grocery store first, waiting for the McDonald’s to open again so we could squat there and use their unlimited wifi, which is a hard thing to find here in New Zealand where wifi is rarely free or unlimited. Displaying our hiker trash with pride, we rebagged our food outside the front door of the grocery store while people stared out of the corner of their eye, wondering what we were up to and where we might be going.… Read more
Day 5: Left Ahipara around 5:45 AM after first breakfast and went to the small store a mile or so from the hostel. Had to wait around until 7:30 for it to open, so did some yoga and calisthenics while I waited. Met Sarah from New Hampshire just before the store opened and we both grabbed some (more) breakfast and resupply for the next few days, then roadwalked together to the start of the Herekino Track. This is her first thru-hike and we talked and out how much people change after a thruhike, whether it is their 5th or their first.… Read more
Day 1- After leaving KeriKeri, it took me all day and about 20 different rides to get to the beginning of the Te Araroa at Cape Reinga. I met an 80 year old man born and raised in KeriKeri, another Te Araroa hiker sectioning from KeriKeri to Cape Reinga, a woman from Te Whau who brought me back to her house for bread, cheese, coffee, and stories of Papua New Guinea in the 1970’s, a woman originally from Hungary who has been in New Zealand now for many years, an English couple on holiday, a half dozen older white men who asked me what I thought of Donald Trump then told me I was wrong, a mom with her 2 kids in the back who told me about how sand pines were planted on the Aupori Peninsula to allow for agricultural development and how the swamps are sometimes drained for the harvest of Kauri logs, a young Maori girl who brought me a short way to Te Kao and dropped me off at her mom’s store, and finally (after being warned that now that it was after 8pm I wasn’t going to get picked up and I should look for camp) I got picked up by a French couple that brought me all the way to Cape Reinga in their rental van.… Read more
Today is day 4 in new zealand, but after the airline I flew on left my backpack in Brisbane, Australia I had to spend an extra day and a half in Auckland before I could start hitching out of the city. Auckland was a pretty neat city and I got there at a neat time. On day 2, there was a gigantic parade right by the hostel for Santa claus. so with the massive crowds of people flocking in every direction, I found an alley with good acoustics and played my guitar with a cup at my feet for a while.… Read more