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Powerful Paddling


11/5 Thursday We woke to a lazy morning at Kauriglen Lodge with beautiful sun and the place to ourselves. We cooked eggs and toast for breakfast- basically a delicacy- and watched Apocalypse Now. Jeff's quite fond of it and I.. Found it interesting. Larry offered to lend us his car to drive to the local cheese shop, but we were both weary of driving on the other side of the road and had little interest in doing any unnecessary wandering. We packed and headed downtown at around 11:30, there were quite a few tourists in this Bohemian settlement of a town! We made use of free wifi to type a few posts outside of the Puhoi Pub and then headed over to the Kayak co. In town. Run by a family who was happy to have a business of their own so as to spend more time with their children, all their little chicks have left the nest and their business is on the rise with more and more hikers each year. We left a few hours before high tide and paddled against the current for 8 km before meeting the kayak family in a van with our packs. Also greeting us was Mike from the group of 5 hikers we met. He slipped and hurt his back in Breams Head and has been hitching alongside his crew ever since- we got the impression this might be a little more than he signed up for. After we disembarked, we road walked around a rocky coast and then had to take a bus around another cliff because the tides were against our favor. Just as we finally started our walk, and older gentleman pulled over and questioned us about our journey. He was enthralled by our story and insisted we come meet his wife at the supermarket and join them for dinner and a sleep at their place. It was too good to pass up, so Dennis, Sue, Jeff and in all dined on mussels, fish, potatoes and asparagus and took a walk through the Kauri forest Denis helps to maintain. We even got to try some Lothlorian wine made from the feyjora fruit- new and delicious! We slept well on full stomachs and a slight buzz... 11/6 Woke at 4:30 well before sunrise so we could make it to the Okura estuary crossing for a low tide at 9:58 am. This was about 20 km ahead and ambitious to start. We started our early morning hiking through Orewa, a budding town along the water north of Auckland, full of new developments. We had our headlamps on and watched the city wake up as we passed through. The sunrise was spectacular as well and reflected beautifully in the surf. A small trek on a local walking path gave way too an epic road walk that took us most of the way to the estuary crossing, before hitting some bush and walked a bit along the coast. Kiwis are very protective of their native Kauri trees, that have been experiencing some blight lately, so one must stop and scrub shoes/spray bottoms of feet before entering many of these tracks. Nevertheless we arrived at the Okura river precisely at "low tide"... Yet, there was absolutely no where to cross! After 30 minutes of running up and down the coast looking for a better spot, I watched Jeff plunge chest deep into the water with his pack above his head... He was going for it and if I didn't, then we'd be on opposite sides of the ocean for another 12 hours, so in I went. Pack on my shoulder, holding my shoes and poles, I had to tip-top through chest deep tidal water to pass, but alas, I had made it! (One my greatest hiking feats to date). After this, the trail gave way to beautiful views over the coast and easy tramping. We following the coastline as the Auckland skyline and space needle grew closer into view. Finally, realizing we might actually make it into the city, we tried calling every hostel looking for rooms, but the whole city was booked! Fortunately, we had met a woman named Pippa on the top of the Herekino forest who had given us her number- we called her, and despite being out of the country, she directed us to her home and spare key! We got some Korean food and headed to our own private house for the night... For free. Kiwi hospitality has yet to be beat!


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Jeff & Kate Bernardoni

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