Day 10. Beachside Holiday Park – Russell forest hut. 22km (12 by boat and 10 by foot). Total 273km.
What a perfect campsite. I lay in my tent in the early morning and watch the sunrise right over the sea. The birds are singing and as I have the luxury of not hiking this morning, I just enjoy.
The morning flies by as I have breakfast with fresh apples and yoghurt, a long hot shower, do my exercises, Facebook, try calling family,… At lunch I cook some noodles and share the remaining with Matt and Quinn who arrived yesterday evening. I eat so much as I bought far too much food and my backpack is really heavy now and fully packed. It’s so hard for me to know how much I will be eating and still experimenting with what to take,… Hopefully I can adjust that soon with more experience. Julia and Samuel (the Austrians) plus a Canadian couple are arriving and at 2.15pm the boat takes us to the Waikare Inlet to the next trail section. That were the easiest 12km of the trail yet! Luckily I am finally not messing up my average kilometers thanks to the boat as I have my deadline to be in Wellington on December 19.
At 3pm we start hiking on a gravel road into the Russell Forest. The easy road then moves into private Maori land we have the privilege to hike through. After two river crossings our feet are already wet before the actual river section starts. The rainforest is stunning, the water wading even more impressive than last time. I just enjoy this day and as it’s so short even my heavy backpack doesn’t matter. I am hiking with Quinn and Matt and we think at one point having lost the trail bit it’s just continuing in the water.
It’s just an in and out a lot of the time before we hike up through a muddy section and then we are already 50m away from the hut. Which is basically a shelter with benches and tables where we can drop our stuff on to set up our tents. I get water and enjoy my sandwiches (I already made at the holiday Park) with the two Canadian couples. The Austrians didn’t make it this far today. A very nice evening before moving into my tent at 7.30pm.
Day 11. Russel Forest campsite – Whananaki. 39km. Total 312km. Long day!
I am the first to start at 7am. It’s cloudy but soon getting warm, especially uphill! I can feel my heavy backpack now, I packed far too much food. This will be pretty challenging today.
The 8km remaining in the forest are beautiful. But then a very long stretch of road walking is getting tough on my feet. At 11.20am I am already so hungry I am having lunch just somewhere on the road. Matt and Quinn are catching up and we hike uphill with great views on the ocean and hills.
Before 2pm I enter the next rainforest section, the Morepork – Onekainga track. The 13km are supposed to take 4-5h and it’s mainly on private land so we cannot camp there. There is almost no mud (yeay!) and in the beginning I enjoy the hike. After a while of up and downhills I start being tired but want to wait for the viewpoint before taking a break. Well, it’s taking a while and the last part is indeed steep. I am completely soaked in sweat and just lay down a while to relax, removing the shoes from my hurting feet. It’s a beautiful place up here and I would love just to camp and stay here.
Unfortunately I now have to continue, first downhill to the most pretty series of small streams before painfully hiking again uphill. I have to stop every few minutes now. My shoulders hurt from the backpack and my feet are sore. But anyways, I just keep on putting one foot before the other. There are long stretches of up and downs before descending on farmland.
Matt and Quinn are hiking in front of me and now the other Canadian couple, Bratt and Jess are coming as well. A short hike on the road and then a final stretch on the estuary before arriving at the Whananaki holiday park.
I would have preferred to camp to safe money but it’s all private land around and already 5pm (plus I am too exhausted to continue). As I am hiking alone I am offered to sleep for the same price (15$) in a cute little cabin instead of my tent! A dry and warm place just for myself? That’s a nice reward after 39km with a heavy pack! Shower. Dinner. Chatting. I discover that both couples are just over twenty years old! They did look older to me or maybe it was their ascertainty? At 21 I would have never ever been able to do this kind of hike. As a loud American hiker is arriving I go to my little cabin to write my blog and enjoy this great place.