Ocean Beach 371km to Mangawhai 442km (day 23-27)
Northland keeps putting on it’s charms for us. The weather has now shot through to mid-20’s, and we are walking along or past more stunning beaches. It’s definitely a region we will come back to spend more time in.
Due to my birthday, and our proximity to the champion small brewery, we made some adjustments to our Te Araroa. Firstly, we walked out of Ocean Beach by road, rather than a 5hr bush track. We luckily managed to get across the Whangarei Heads channel – although it was a white knuckle experience, reminiscent of a hell boat ride in Belize!! Still, back on terra firma, and we fought a headwind 6km up to Ruakaka.
We came across the pub first, and decided to do the first birthday cheers there. Darn that it was another 4.5km to the campsite!! That was a long struggle. But what a campsite, reportedly one of the largest in NZ. With just a few people in it, we rattled around, but enjoyed our little cabin nonetheless.
Birthday weekend kicked in the next day is ernest. A 9km stroll along the amazing beach, and we made it to Waipu – our base for the weekend. A cute bnb studio, great fare from the butcher, and yes, great beers at McLeods Brewery! And to top it off, got to see Sth Africa beat England in the Rugby World Cup final. Magic, magic time.
Then it was back on the trail again, to Mangawhai Heads, and Mangawhai. Only a hill separates them from Waipu, but all of a sudden the laid back Northland vibe was shifting. Big houses, fenced if not gated estates, big cars, big boats. The campgrounds were both great, and we loved discovering Mangawhai tavern. The long coast and large estuary definitely need to be further explored another time.
The Northland section is now complete, and it’s been near on 4 weeks of discovery. We are fitter, and marginally slimmer. We have started to let go of the notion of ‘we should be there by now’ Te Araroa mentality, though not quite in the ‘stay in each moment’ phase. We’ve made some friends who we may just have to virtually follow for now. We’ve seen varied ways of life, and smiles and friendliness from the locals. I am questioning how much land and palatial homes do some people really need, when other whanau have much less, but seem happy. Could we make more people happy if we dialled back some of the ostentatious wealth?
I am still not sure if we can complete the trail, but I am happy to have at least experienced all of this so far.