14 years ago today we tied the knot.  No exchanging of cards nor gifts – weight thing!  Just each other’s company enjoying 26kms across New Zealand’s finest countryside.

It started with crossing the longest footbridge in the Southern Hemisphere at just under 500 metres.  Flounder skimmed across the sandy bottom, hard to see at first if not for a plume of muddied water as they sped to seek better cover.

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The Whananaki Coastal Track gave views of jutting land masses out at sea.  A monument remembers the 16 lives lost to mountainous waves and cold, as lifeboats capsized when the Capitaine Bougainville freighter caught fire during a storm in September, 1975.

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We met up with Silvio and Fina, two other TA walkers we first me in Kerikeri.  They had freedom camped so sharing the 7kms at their pace meant we put some distance under our soles at speed before they notched it up a gear and left us to wander in solitude.  We caught them again in Matapouri where it was a feed of fish and chips for lunch.  They left; we hitched a ride to catch them again to lead them onto the Matapouri Bush Track.  Wasn’t long before they over took us and we didn’t catch them.

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A highlight today was to experience ‘Tane Moana’.  This is a gigantic Kauri tree stands 11 metres in diameter and is aged at over 1,000 years in age.  Just impressive.

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It was more road walking into Ngunguru.  Just under one kilometre before the township limits, a school bus pulled up alongside with an offer of a lift.  We hopped on and the looks of bewilderment when we hopped off in front of other TA walkers was priceless.  We left them wondering if we had taken the bus the whole way!  Which of course we hadn’t.

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Food was replenished at the shop before arrangements made with the water taxi to get us across the Ngunguru River to our camping spot on the other side.

Nikau Bay Camp was awesome.  An eco-environment set up meaning the composting toilet used shavings to cover up number twos; the out-door shower with the rain shower rose and califont hot water had a punga tree growing up the centre to natural light; the kitchen and eating area was open and all building material was second hand recycled materials.  Right down to the taps retrieved from earthquake homes from Christchurch.  Our plot that overlooked the tidal river was calming.  A camp fire was lit bringing the campsite together for conversation and laughter.

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But before we joined the smoke from burning manuka, we cooked up an anniversary meal to die for.  Baked beans for him; spaghetti for her.  Washed down with a can of gin and dare I write, a bottle of beer.

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A beer to break the challenge set in Canada not to drink one for three months.  Now as a self-indulgence consequence, I have to get a tattoo of a beer bottle for not going the challenge distance!

What’s a small inking to commemorate the 14th anniversary?