After a couple of days rest, we felt ready for the next chapter, Kaitaia to Keri Keri, another 100km+ stretch, through a couple of Northland’s forests. Sounded like a plan, especially once we decided to avoid a famed 15km section which was now knee deep in mud.
We learnt a lot in the next 5 days! The letter ‘R’ featured a lot. Relentless, river (of mud and water), road walking, rurus, resilience.
The highlights were stunning. 3km of stream walking through Omahuta forest – just laughing and splashing through a stunning gorge. Magnificent kauri groves in Puketi forest, just jaw-dropping, especially when you consider their age. A night spent alone in the wild, listening to kereru nesting high above you, the rurus coming out to hunt. The kindness of a guy who gave us a lift, and the lady who let us sleep in a spare sleepout. The joy of getting to camp, and finding yourselves as the only ones in an 18 sleeper hut. Coming across the unexpectedly magnificent Rainbow falls when you were just running out of steam.
Lessons learnt were also many. Hitching to Mangamuka is difficult, and walking 17km on SH1 is doable, if not exactly pleasant. Mangamuka gorge is pretty though, the summit at 343m was a literal and virtual highlight! You can be tired enough that a slightly burnt out sleepout is a luxury. Mud, plus steep narrow ‘path’ can bring me to tears. Seeing Pete slip ‘Indiana Jones-like’ down said path is a heart-stopping experience. (Grazed, shaken, but otherwise ok). Making the call that we couldn’t safely reach the hut was tough, but actually camping in the NZ wilderness was a good experience that we are bound to have to repeat. Time and magnificent views smooth over all the bumps.
Rest now, and on to the next Northland forest adventure.