We once again broke camp relatively early, this time in order to try and find a free boat ride across the Whanagai Inlet with a local fisherman. Unfortunately, there were 3 things against us: it was a Sunday, it was overcast, and the rugby World Cup finals had been the night before. It had been between the NZ All Blacks and their ancient rivals, the Aussie Wallabies, and had been broadcast at 4 a.m., as the game had taken place in London (thankfully, the All Blacks won, and a national tragedy was averted). Combine, this meant that nobody was on the water that morning, and after hiking to every port in the area, we resigned to calling a charter to taxi us across to the other side for the steep price of $40 per person. Our ferryman, Steve, normally ran fishing charters, but offered to help hikers out at little profit to himself. We then elected to ride a few kilometres down the beach with him to avoid another estuary crossing, as we would have arrived at high tide.
After dropping us off, we started south along another beach walk, before cutting inland to Waipu, a regional cultural center. Apparently the old trail forded yet ANOTHER estuary there, with a much deeper channel, so the trail gods decided to avoid the eventual hiker drowning and sent it over a bridge. Unfortunately, after some confusing signs, we found ourselves foundering in tall grass alongside a tidal area until a local, Graham, and his wife arrived to set us straight, and of course insisted we join them for tea at their house along the trail. We accepted a short ride to avoid more road walking along a busy highway, and spent a nice hour getting more trail advice, and learning about the building and contracting industry which Graham was a part of.
We finally got on our way, and followed a dirt road through more forest until LH and SK caught up with us while we were filling our water. We hiked with them for another hour until breaking off to camp atop a secluded hill in a sheep field with views along the rocky coast in anticipation of a killer sunrise in the morning.
We awoke to the sound of giggling turkeys before setting off along our costal trail towards Mangawhai, passing LH and SK along the way. Eventually we found ourselves on a 15 km beachwalk, where we passed a group of 5 fellow hikers, 3 Kiwis, one Italian, and one woman. They had been traveling together since Cape Reinga, doing about 20 km a day, and hadn’t seen a single other hiker. We continued on, and were passed by our usual duo again as we stopped to break, watching as they receded into the distance. Our destination was a campsite at the end of the beach, ending a relatively short day of hiking with some hot food in the kitchen, a shower and some much needed laundry.