Twig Adventures

Day 11: Lessons from the road and a raptor rescue

December 13th Shelter on the Papakauri Stream (km274)-to mountain top campsite on the Morepork track (km307) Mileage: 20.5mi/33km The day begin with a little bit of trail and then a 13 km road walk. Once on the road, I began marvelling at how pleasant it was. I was passing many quaint little farms and about every kind of livestock that you can imagine. There was even a herd of cattle crossing the road, which made for an interesting encounter. A few of the bulls were very curious! Many TA walkers hitch the road sections, but I want to walk (or use some other method of human-powered travel, as is fit) to get across most of the country. Plus, I feel[…]

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Day 10: A little bit of everything

December 12th Paihia (km248)-shelter on the Papakauri Stream (km274) Mileage: 13mi/21km Today had the widest assortment of walking yet. I slept in a bit, until 6 am!, but couldn’t help myself from packing my stuff, seeing blue skies. So much for a zero. I slept so well last night and felt rested and ready to hike. I did get roused briefly during the night by an unusual intruder…a local cat was trying to get into my tent, mewing and acting cute. No way was he going to mix with my down quilt and inflatable matt and pillow but I did get up to go to the bathroom and then had a brief kitty-cuddle on the porch chair. The hostel had[…]

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Day 9: more luxury from a tent.

December 11th Kerikeri (km222)-Paihia (km248 Mileage: 16.2mi/26km Today was mostly a journey from one town to the next, with nice coastal views at the end. I packed up early and left the holiday park in search of the free wifi spot downtown. There I sat for several hours reading emails and then trying to figure out why my blog post app wasn’t working. Nothing would go through. Frustrated, I finally decided it was time to go back to doing what I do best: walking. The start of this section led past the stone store, a historic site and still functioning store. NZ has a relatively recent beginning, much like the US, so there aren’t a whole lot of historical highlights.[…]

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Day 8: It’s time for town

December 10th Puketi rec area (km199)-Kerikeri (km222) Mileage: 14.3mi/23km plus too much walking around town. Today was a short-ish walk into the first large town, Kerikeri. I woke to the sound of rain on my tent as well as the rooster crowing. The rain was light and let up shortly after. With no rain for the first whole week, I’d say I have been petty lucky. I followed Mike on the route through paddock fields most of the morning. A paddock is simply a parceled piece of rangeland. New Zealand practices rotational grazing, in which stock is periodically moved from one small paddock to another to more effectively allviate over-grazing. It’s more work for the farmer but seems to be[…]

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Day 7: There are others!

December 9th Apple Dam Campsite (km174)-Puketi rec area (km199) Mileage: 15.5mi/25km plus 2.5 miles walking around the Kauri Sanctuary. It was so quiet overnight, save for the occasional morepork. I woke up at one point thinking I was in a void. Down here, out of the way of the rest of the world, there are no jets flying overhead and no light pollution. But as soon as the sun begins to peak up at 5 am, all the birds come alive and it is impossible to sleep in. I wanted to get up early anyways to go visit the kauri sanctuary a few kilometers down the road. These are some of the biggest and oldest trees in the world and[…]

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Day 6: American Ninja Warrior in the Jungle

December 8th 580m summit at start of Raetea forest (km140.5)-Apple Dam Campsite (km174.5) Mileage: 21mi/34km Today was the day that the the forest got real. Mostly it was due to the mud but the steep climbs and overhanging vines were significant players. To start, the sunrise from my mountain top camp was really beautiful. About 20 minutes into the hike, I begin thinking of my tactics in terms of the popular TV show American Ninja Warrior. Usually one of the beginning obstacles involves a scramble across unstable stepping stones or a rolling log. Much of the forest today was this obstacle, except that the penalty for getting it wrong was a plunge into the mud rather than a clear pool[…]

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Day 5: Climbing to start and end

December 7th Herekino track trailhead (km109) to 580 summit at start of Raetea (km140.5) Mileage: 19.2mi/31km Aside from hearing cars drive by all night (because I was camped near a road), I was treated to a chorus of Moreporks. This is the New Zealand owl, named such because its call sounds like it is demanding: more pork! I was hoping to hear one, instead I heard about a dozen. I didn’t sleep very well because my mind began fixating on the variance in their calls. There was one that sounded like someone clearing their throught. I woke up early to a pheasant crowing and then flapping up into the air, doing a mating dance. I’ve spooked a few pheasants along[…]

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Day 4: In and out

December 6th Karaka Stream (km82)-Herekino track trailhead (km109) Mileage: 16.8mi/27km plus additional 2km running back to hostel. I slept the best I ever have amongst some trees with the faint sound of the surf as white noise. It is even more peaceful sleeping here, knowing there are no animals that can harm you. I woke to birdsong early. I was pleased to find absolutely no condensation on my tent. The previous 2 nights were dripping wet. Sight selection plays a huge role in this. It’s best to camp amongst pine trees. Grassy areas near water are the worst, even if they are inviting. I skipped my breakfast routine and instead walked the 5 km to the Holiday Park. The water[…]

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Day 3: Make it burn

December 5th Maunganui Bluff Campsite(km41)-Karaka Stream (km82) Mileage: 25.5mi/41km Wow, I just realized that I walked the same amount today that I did in the first 2 days! Well, Day 1 was really only a half or quarter day. But yeah, I was on a roll today. I started just before 7 a.m. and had already caught up to Catrin by 8. She had gotten up at 4 a.m. and was rewarded by seeing wild horses playing on the beach at sunrise. I had actually seen the horses roll through our camp when I woke up but her description of them galloping and rearing on the beach, with the full moon in the background, made me wish I had got[…]

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Day 2: Bring on the beach

December 4th Twighlight Beach campground (km12)-Maunganui Bluff Campsite (km41) Mileage: 18mi/29km It was the first full day of mostly beach walking on Ninety Mile Beach, a stretch of beach that is actually only 50mi/80km long. It feels like 90 miles when you have to walk it. I woke around 4am, still feeling the effects of jetlag, so I worked on my blog and enjoyed the sunrise/moonset. My abode for the next 4 months. I decided to take a lazy morning, figuring I would have plenty of time to make it the 29kms to The Bluff campsite, not to be confused with Bluff, the end of the trail over 3000 km away still. I chatted with Shannon, giving pointers on how[…]

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