Two River Crossings (One Failed) a Boat Ride and a Swim
We had to do two tide-reliant river crossings on the one day. Unfortunately, low tide wasn’t until quite late and we couldn’t leave camp until 2 pm, a ridiculously late start for us.
So we got to have an easy morning, I slept in until 6:50! So late! (This tramping thing redefines your version of ‘late’). Rex slept in until almost 10, he really must have needed it!
The first crossing was easy. After stripping down to our underwear (there was no point getting our tights all wet) Holli, Asha, Dad and I went across first. The water came to about mid-thigh on me but the current wasn’t very strong. After dumping our bags on the bank we went back for Mum and the boys, taking the boys’ bags as we were taller and would keep them out of the water. We all had a lot of fun wading across together.
We did the 7.7 km between the two crossings as fast as we could, setting a new record of 12.32 minutes for walking a kilometre. We wanted to make the next crossing while the tide was still low.
We made it by six, a time when we’d been told that it would be fine to cross. It looked very wide and intimidating. We had to walk through the water, upstream, following the markers for quite a while, before crossing properly.
I got deep pretty quickly. There was no current but it was almost at the bottom of my bag. I went ahead to scout it out – I’m one of the tallest and least likely to get my bag wet if it got deep quickly. It slowly got deeper and deeper as the tide came in. Soon I had to tighten my shoulder straps to lift my bag up higher. We slowly slogged through the water, the mangrove mud sucking at our shoes.
Then the water started wetting the bottoms of the boys’ bags and Dad and Asha had to carry them on their fronts. A few of the others started feeling very uncomfortable and scared so we decided to call it quits and waded toward land.
We came out of the water into someone’s front yard. Luckily it was just a holiday house and no one was home. We changed out of our soggy clothes and mum rang up a place in the trail notes that had camping.
Ros and Hugh run TideSong BNB. They welcome the bedraggled lot of us with open arms. They fed us biscuits and scones and offered us the use of their shower to warm us up. It was pretty late so after eating we set our tents up and collapsed into bed.
The next morning Ros and Hugh had fruit and more homemade biscuits waiting for us. They gave us a lift in their van to the other side of the water so that we didn’t have to attempt crossing it a second time.
Ros had donated a kidney to Hugh and then they did the Te Araroa to raise awareness for kidney transplants!
We walked along a gravel road for a while, steadily climbing before coming back down onto Ocean Beach.
It was cloudy for a bit then started raining. I swear that beaches have it in for us!
We stopped for lunch at a car park with tables, water and a toilet block. It was just beside the beach but we came off at the wrong spot and had to walk a block around some houses to get to it. While we were eating we were a bit shocked when a car sped in, stopped really fast and two girls leapt out and sprinted down to the beach. The same thing happened again and again, making us even more confused. People would shoot in, park as fast as they could and run down to the beach. We couldn’t work out what on earth was going on until mum asked a man. It was Grab a Seat, a competition when you turn up at a random location and win air tickets.
We sat back and ate, laughing at everybody frantically rushing in, desperate for free tickets.
I think that hikers hunger is kicking in for me. Normally I eat barely anything at all. But for lunch, I ate two huge bowls of cheesy rice and still felt hungry.
We finished the beach and started climbing steeply on the Te Whara Track. Up and down and up and down and up again. It always feels like you go up a lot more than you go down.
We walked along the ridge for ages before stopping for the night near Peach Cove.
Because we’d camped most of the way up a mountain the next morning started slowly. We climbed up 297 steps to the top of Mount Lion and down 1112 stairs (thanks Holli and Forrest for counting!). And a lot of it didn’t have any stairs, the path just went straight up the mountain and we didn’t have stairs to count.
We left the forest and mountains for a paddock full of cows. One cow tossed its head and charged dad.
We had breakfast in a car park. When we came in a fireman said that we looked a bit young to be doing the trail. We told him that our parents were doing it with us but they had fallen behind. He laughed and shouted out to them “Come on old people!”
To get across Reotahi Bay you need to organize someone to give you a lift on a boat across. We arranged for Peter to take us across. He came down pulling his boat with a tractor. We all piled in and he backed it the rest of the way into the water.
When we pulled up to the dock dad got out and swayed around everywhere. It was a floating pontoon but he didn’t know and couldn’t work out why he couldn’t keep his balance!
Peter told us the best way to go and we were on our way.
We walked past the refinery at Marsdom point and down the Ruakaka Pipeline Track.
We made good time and resupplied at Ruakaka. We stopped for the day early enough that we got to go swimming off Uretiti Beach.
It’s been ages since I’ve been swimming at the beach. In Australia, everything in the water wants to kill you but here we went swimming and none of us are in hospital or anything!
Holli got dunked by a big wave. Just before it hit she yelled at it desperately to stop. She swears that she didn’t but I heard her! She came up coughing and spluttering.
You guys are amazing! Looking forward to seeing you down Te Kuiti way.