Twig Adventures

Day 26: Follow the River

December 28th Mercer (km721)-Rangiriri (km746) Mileage: 15.5mi/25km Today was pretty straightfoward: Follow the river until the pie shop. There is a lady that makes and sells legendary hot pies, plus free camping behind her place. Toilet provided courtesy of NZ local government…more on this later. It was an interesting night in the beergarden. They closed plenty early at 9 p.m. but then the volunteer fire department alarm went off aroung 11 p.m. I actually thought it was part of my dream and didn’t even fully wake. Mike mentioned it in the morning and I could just barely recall it. I sleep really soundly in my tent these days. I even slept through all the blinking Christmas lights strung around the[…]

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Day 25: The detour

December 27th Repeater Hut and campsite (km686)-Mercer (km721) Mileage: 21.8mi/35km The section of the TA in the southern Hunua range is still closed because of a slip and land rights issues, so today was going to be mostly all road walking to get down to Mercer. I’ve been struggling with whether to get a ride through this part or to just walk the country roads. It would depend on the quality of the roads and if an opportune ride was offered. Most TA walkers are skipping the entire section from Auckland down to Hamilton, a couple hundred kms. But not me, I just keep plugging along. The day was perfectly clear but I already knew it would be because I[…]

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Day 24: Back into the bush

December 26th McNicol Rd (km664)- Repeater Hut and campsite (km686) Mileage: 13.7mi/22km plus extra 2 km going to visit Hunua falls and following wrong trail. It was raining lightly when I woke up in the morning. I made coffee and breakfast, thinking it would let up, but it only starting coming down harder. I’ve stopped checking the weather forecast because it’s been so nice. Besides, there is nothing I can do about the weather. But I did check to find it was calling for cloudy skies with a touch of rain all day. No kidding. I packed up everything inside my tent, but didn’t want to pack the tent in the rain. Then I remembered that there was a dry[…]

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Day 23: Christmas hiking, drive-by-shootings, and trail magic

December 25th Puhinui Stream (km634)- McNicol Rd, Clevedon (km664) Mileage: 18.6mi/30km This was one Christmas I will surely never forget. It started out just fine, packing up my tent in a beautiful meadow near the stream and then following the stream on a nice gravel path for a few kms, before breaking out into an industrial area. I found a gas station just in time for a bathroom break. I haven’t had need of my trowel for a long time now. Walking through the industrial areas in South Auckland on Christmas morning was kind of surreal. Everything was closed and there were no cars on the road. It felt like the zombie apocalypse. Oddly, there was one guy on a[…]

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Day 22: The eve

December 24th Auckland (km602)-Puhinui Stream (km634) Mileage: 20mi/32km I had breakfast and one last shower, then bid farewell to my Auckland trail angels. Nina was driving James to Clevedon to start the trail from there, but I still had a section through the city to do, plus sections around the west side and airport. I was a bit concerned about camping options around where I would end the day. James described the area as a “hood”, hence his reasoning for skipping it. But I ignored this probably sound advice and did the whole section anyway. I walked a few kms from James’s house to pick up the trail at km 602. This was where I previously left off my first[…]

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Day 20: Auckland is waiting

December 22nd Long Bay (km568)-Auckland CBD (km595) Mileage: 16.8mi/27km So a few nights back, I thought I heard kiwis (the bird) screaming in the night. They supposedly make a pretty horrid sound. You’re more likely to hear one than to see one, since they are nocturnal. But now I’m certain it was pukekos making the noise. They seem to be everywhere in NZ, but especially where there are fields. This area was chocked full of them. I noticed the night before that they had chicks nearby. Like many birds, the adults make a big racket when an intruder gets too near, trying to draw it off. These birds seem to operate in big family units, with many adults and teenagers[…]

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Day 21: A day for R&R

December 23rd This being my first day off, I didn’t do a whole lot. Denis texted me at 0730 am that he was bringing my stuff over to me. Wow, what a guy. I was so excited to see it. He brought all of it too, so I was able to better organize things. I replaced my broken stake and pulled all the things for my bounce box. Nina and James went to take some pictures on One Tree Hill with their new camera, while I had an important date with my nail clippers. After they returned, we all left to go to Christmas lunch at James’s parents. They live in North Auckland and it actually gave me anxiety traveling[…]

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Day 19: Riding the tides

December 21st Puhoi (km531)-Long Bay (km568) Mileage: 23mi/37km It was quite chilly this morning. I could even see my breath, so I was happy to be in the caravan. I slept really good until the rooster alarm at 04:30. Even then, I slept through that for another hour. But I wanted to get an early start before the road walk got to have too much traffic. I was walking by 7 am and past busy SH1 by 8. I skipped a kayak route once again. I’ve paddled a lot of similar rivers and it was logistically easier just to walk. I enjoyed some interpretive trails through Wenderholm Park. The old historic house there played host to Queen Elizabeth, back when[…]

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Day 18: Pushing to Puhoi

December 20th forest camp (km498)- Puhoi (km531) Mileage: 20.5mi/33km Today was kind of a tough day. It started out with morning rain, the kind that ensures that you have to pack a wet tent, even though it’s been dry the rest of the night. I could tell it was going to rain more. The wind had blown a lot of clouds up into the mountains, which were now getting trapped and letting loose their moisture. Looking out towards the coast, it almost looked clear. I was on the trail by 06:30 am and once again doing the roller-coaster. These forest tracks mostly follow the ridgelines, which rise and fall a lot, given their volcanic origins. And if you see a[…]

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Day 17: more beach and bush

December 19th Miller’s Ark Retreat (km472.5) – forest camp (km497.5) Mileage: 15.5mi/25km plus 2k extra walking the beach. Today was about slowing down and taking things in. I was in no hurry to leave the Miller’s, not after the nice dinner last night. We had arrived at their place close to 7pm, unannounced, but they set about right away in sharing their home. They even cooked us dinner. Their daughter makes gourmet meat pies for sale overseas, so they baked us one large, butter chicken, and one small one, rosemary and steak. Jo also made a salad. After dinner we had herbal tea and conversation into the night. It was of great international flavor, given the inputs from Denmark and[…]

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