Left Holiday part with a little road walk and up into confusingly marked pasture land. After tramping through tall grass, we cut up into a ridge walk and forest treck that was founded by Sir Edmond Hillary in 2001. The next 6 hours of our lives were pretty much consumed by the forest, but weather was good and we were able to lunch by a sunny stream and made good time, despite some poorly marked trail. We began descending upon a small town outside of Warkworth and were hard pressed to find a campsite with all the pasture land. Jeff happened to ask a passing biker, named Aaron, and he ended up living right where we asked him and he invited us in. His wife, Selena, has just finished making dinner and so we dined with them and they wouldn't let us leave without spending the night in their guest room... Early birthday present! We slept warm and cozy and woke to much rain in the morning of Nov. 4...
11/4 Fortunately, Selena had left a kind note and towels to shower (which we passed up, seeing as we'd be getting soaked shortly). We had a quick breakfast and hit the trail. We wound up through a logging hill and stayed mostly on a wet, cold, clay road for a few km. This led into a shorter forest treck and finally opened up in the late morning into pastureland. We had a fast snack under a tree, and fortunately the sun began to shine! The trail was EXTREMELY poorly marked here and this led us up and around stiles that lead to no where, or on the wrong side of barbed wire fences. The whole time, all I could think about was a warm bed and our reservation at the Kauriglen Lodge in Puhoi. After nearly being blown off the hill, we descended with sunshine and had a lovely tramp on the Puhoi trail before entering town. Alas, the PUHOI GENERAL STORE! While quite expensive, we bought a feast and BEER and my birthday fun began :). After lunch we hiked about a km out of town to the Lodge where Larry, the Innkeeper, met us with more beer and a friendly smile. He chatted with us and we were the only ones staying there so we basically had a whole house to ourselves! We showered and warmed up then headed back into town to hit up the pub for dinner. So pubgrub "filled the gap" and the bartender even bought be a round after dinner and CAKE! To top it all off, he gave me a "Puhoi Pub" sign that had been signed by all the patrons commemorating my birthday. Needless to say, it was the perfect end to a lovely New Zealand birthday.