Kerikeri (km222)-Paihia (km248
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. People come here mostly for the natural beauty.
A road walk out of town followed, then a long stretch through forestry roads. I caught up with Mike and then we overtook Nico, a German TA hiker that had just started at Kerikeri. He was moving slow to break himself in but also said he had just done a half-marathon the day before, remarking about how hilly the country is. True that. The dirt road rolled along until winding back down to the coast, spitting us out at a golf course. It was a really nice day and there were a few golfers out taking whacks at balls.
We continued past the Waitangi Treaty grounds, where in the 1800’s, the British made pacts with the Maori chiefs and then promptly broke most of them. Sound familiar? We entered the outskirts of Paihia, and the beach resort atmosphere promptly took hold. It was very pleasant strolling along the sidewalk, right next to the beach. We passed people swimming, lounging, and sipping wine in outdoor cafes. The bay itself is very scenic, with offshore islands, headlands, yachts, and ferry boats everywhere. There were even a few para-gliders and para-sails. By the end, my feet were hurting…and the top of my ankle that began niggling me yesterday. It seems to be the result of an inflamed sandfly bite that is being rubbed by my hiking shoe. When I’m wearing my camp shoes, I don’t feel it at all. It must be similar to when I got poison ivy on the AT and my whole ankle swelled. Just so long as it’s not an actual sprain or tendon problem.
I checked into the Pickled Parrot hostel, which has nice grassy tentsites for only $15, which includes a continental breakfast. It’s a TA special and a good deal here. BTW, I’ll be listing prices in NZ dollars, so bear in mind that the US $ is stronger. My money goes a bit longer here, though the cost of everything is inflated to reflect that. I had a nice hot shower, cooked in the kitchen, and enjoyed lounging on the sofa. The tent is just for sleeping, which I do very well in, so it’s by far the better option over a dorm room. It saves me money and helps me to keep my stuff contained in one place. Luxurious tent living. There will be a lot more of this given how limited wilderness camping is in the North Island. But to be able to take a hot shower and have a toilet every day, it makes thru-hiking much easier.
The hostel was very nice with a relaxed atmosphere, so I contemplated staying another night and having my first zero day (day off/no hiking). Depends on the weather. Already it was sprinkling tonight and the forecast says 90% chance of rain tomorrow. We’ll see.