A lone bugler stood on the hillside before the greys of dawn lightened the sky and with full lungs sounded out morning reveille repeatedly across the valley. Roosters need to be fitted with a snooze button or buck shot!
It wasn’t long after before the alarm on the watch did beep meaning it was time for the feet to hit the floor. Within the hour, feet were hitting the pavement eastwards to traverse more hill ripples incorporating both farmland and bush.
One part of the walk had us fenced in with barbed wire on one side and electrical fence wiring on the other, just wide enough to fit. Half a metre in either direction and you were either ripped open or given a zap.
It was the height of the grass though that ended up being the nuisance. Chest height, it was difficult to see the pathway floor and had Claire disappear from sight during a steep decline through having slipped over. An ideal hiding spot to have a roll around in the paddock however I was already a bit the way down and don’t think I would have had any energy to clamber back up let alone climb on top! When she did regain composure and resurfaced, a rash appeared from both heat and grass all over.
It was the same for Mike except his reaction had his eyes puff up and blocked his sinuses. He looked terrible. Popping anti-histamine didn’t alleviate the condition and so a phone call was made to his Dad who resides in Auckland to come pick him up. At just over an hour’s drive away, it was health first.
We were sitting at the Puhoi Pub by now having covered the 18 kilometres by early afternoon. Just as well, the weather had turned for the worse and persisted down with rain. The pub was fantastic, nostalgia plastered all over the walls from yesteryear. Certainly, a popular place by the number of patrons frequenting the establishment as measured by the volume of beer and meals being served.
There was no accommodation in Puhioi and therefore meant some strategic thinking. The next stage of the walk was a 7km kayak then 10 km walk to Orewa. After that, it was pretty much on the outskirts of Auckland and the start of a heap of cross town suburban road walking.
Mike offered us a lift back with his Dad. When his Dad did arrive, there was no room so we bid farewell till further down the island. By now, we had pretty much accepted our walking to Auckland was done. A cheeky question to a couple of women sitting having a meal and wine as to whether a hitch to Auckland was possible proved successful.
Katie and Nicola dropped us off close to the Viaduct in downtown Auckland. Another experience of hospitality by a couple who were global travellers. Jumping on a feeder bus, we were the last stop that had us disembark off the bus practically right outside our friends Andrew and Cherone. We stayed with them on our way north to the Cape. It was an impromptu turning up onto their doorstep and with open arms, they welcomed us back into their home even with the body stench and dirty laundry.
Being invited to join them at their neighbours for a barbque dinner after a decent clean up, conversations shared allowed us to reflect in-between slowly devoured steak sandwiches. Jeez they tasted good!
Thoughts did stray to those fellow TA walkers who were still out there on the trail behind us and indeed, in front of us. The Te Araroa is a fantastic opportunity to experience our own back yard first hand and we have. But best of all, it’s the friendships one makes that is the umbilical cord to just want to keep going. Even when you push yourself to a brink.
He aha te mea nui o tea ao – What is the most important thing in the world?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata – It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.
We are happy with how we have approached our journey so far. Most definitely grateful.
A couple of day’s rest and recovery with the Wilsons and then, we put our boots back on.