Day 8. Puketi Recreation Area – Waitangi Forest. 33km. Total 231km.
I wake up at 6.30am and start cooking my porridge and tea while still sitting in my sleeping bag in my tent. I love being cozy like this for breakfast!
At 7.30am I am the first to start the trail and I enjoy being on my own in the sun. At the road I am again offered a ride, but I keep on hiking.
After a few kilometers the trail goes onto farmland and I share my hiking for a while with sheep and their cute lambs while getting again wet feet due to the damp grass.
Then it’s road again and just as I arrive a hiker’s couple leave a house. The Austrians Julia and Samuel were invited for breakfast after camping the night there. We start talking and talking while hiking together on the road and the next farmland before joining a river.
Around 11.45am we take a lunch break at a nice covered picnic table (as it rains every now and then today). As I have no bread or so left I quickly cook some water for a tomatoe soup with couscous. I am amazed again how handy it actually is to have everything with you and how fast you can prepare yourself a hot meal. Then we join the beautiful Kerikeri river track up to the rainbow falls.
The following section is unfortunately closed so we have to take the road instead and walk right into town. We say goodbye as the Austrians will stay here for two nights while I want to continue. I make a stop at a library to use their bathroom to fill up on water, then I spend an hour on a bench close to my Spark Wi-Fi area so I can upload my last blog post and safeguard my pictures. Then off to a supermarket for some fresh food for tonight and fruit for the morning.
And at 4pm I walk down to the famous Stone Store, the oldest stone building in New Zealand.
From there I take up the trail again on roads for a few kilometers before moving into the nice Waitangi Forest. I keep on hiking for a while although my feet hurt to get off the main road, it starts to rain and I hurry up. I see a little hill next to the road which seems perfect. I can hide up there in my camouflage tent and set up my camp there, have dinner and enjoy being here. A little scared as I am now sleeping alone again without other hikers in their tents close by. I also want to try leaving one of my doors open as the condensation was really bad the last two nights (but then it was also very wet outside due to rain and dew).
Last night I fell asleep fast, then woke up at 11pm just to scare myself for about an hour about all the noises outside. I quickly shut my second door and try to calm my racing heart. Next time I wake up is 3am and it’s much calmer outside so I sleep again until 6am. My tent kept dry in the forest! Breakfast and off I go at 7am to a beautiful sunlit morning (again)! I feel so happy to enjoy these beautiful mornings every day! There is a short shower and suddenly I see a perfect full rainbow over the forest. Totally worth having been scared at night!
Now it’s a few more hours in the Waitangi Forest on gravel road until I reach Waitangi and then Paihia.
I buy my resupply for the next 7days (plus fresh stuff for today) in the supermarket and walk to the YHA just to find out that not only the YHA but all hostels in Paihia are fully booked due to the long weekend (labour day)! I decide to continue a few kilometers further and set up my tent in the Beachside Holiday Park. It’s 20$ for a site, no matter that I have just my small tent and not big campervan plus tent plus… as the others. Nevermind, I have a beautiful spot in front of the beach! So now I change into my rainclothes to wash all my other stuff, prepare my salad and eat before taking a very long hot shower and putting on my nice fresh clothes. Then I sit at the picnic table to organise the next days, talk to my neighbours and enjoy the sun. The reception lady told me that the water taxi will be leaving at 2.30pm tomorrow and it’s 20$ per person. This is the official trail to take the water taxi so I will just relax tomorrow morning instead of taking the ferry and hiking 25 additional kilometers that wouldn’t count into my 3,000km…
As it gets cold I move into the TV room with comfy couches. The All Blacks are playing tonight against the Australian Wallabies and everyone here is excited about the rugby game. A relaxing day and I am finally happy having ended here instead of Paihia.