Day 14: Paihia to Helena Bay

Distance travelled today: 44km (11km by boat)

Total TA distance covered: 288km

This morning called for a very early rise to meet the water taxi for departure at 6am. The great thing about an early rise was getting down to the water in the early morning light. Calm waters catching the first splashes of sunlight made for a brillant show. There is a lot of money tied up in these parts. MacMansions with commanding views litter the cliff tops to the water edge. Plenty of yatchs to go aloneith the houses.

It ended up only being Vicky and myself for the boat leg. It was a quick ride of about half an hour with Diveops and skipper Debbie. Through the openn waters it was pretty much just a boat ride but as we ended into mangrove areas it decame a bit more exhilerating. The passages were narrow and if you looked ahead you couldn’t see a gap. Luckly the locals know what they ate doing. Just as it looked like we might be about to run aground the boat was careened into a tight banking turn into the next canel. The rising mist off the water just added to the experience.

We were dropped at the landing in Waikare. This is in middle of no where. Vicky and I looked at each other with a knowing glance – what is this place. While Vicky attended to foot repair before the day started I headed off up up the road.

A couple of kilometres in I met a young Mauri boy riding his bike. He had of heaps of questions, one fired after the other in rapid sucession.  Then without a word he just shoot off and was gone.

Further down the road I came across several other TA’ers who had camped by the river. Stefan from Germany was just about ready to hit the trail. He caught up with me just before a section of trail that required a 4km wade up a river. He told me last night was busy with about 8 people staying at the camp site he was at. He wasn’t wrong. As we hit the spot to get into the river there they all were, well most. Michala and Shana from the US along with Zeeda and Petra from the Czech Republic. They were all changing from boots into crocs for the river.

With a 4km stretch wading from shoal to shoal and walking over slippery rocks, I didn’t want to do this in my sandles and so charged straight in with my trailer runners. Much better toe protection, ankle support and grip on the wet surfaces. I knew the others would be a fair bit slower an went on ahead.

The stream will brilliant. Crystal clear water and many small water features along the way, cascading over rocks or logs. But the clear nature of the water messed with ypur depth petception a bit. Many stops wete much deeper than expected with you put a foot down. The eastern sunlight was tricky as well, with the reflection making if difficult to see firm footing. Often it was bling trial and error. Walking poles made the job of staying up right much easier.

Along the river I noticed fresh foot prints in the sand and knew that someone was ahead. As I walked on they got fresher and fresher and the water drips that get kicked onto rocks as one steps out of water were looking fresher each time. So nearing the end of the river section who should I cone across taking a break but Bob. Good old Bob. And talk about timing. I was a bit peckish and he felt obliged to return the favour of a chocolate bar. Bob is treking along this trail just fine and having a great time.

Bob making his way up stream

Bob making his way up stream

The remainder of the day was uneventul road bash along Russel Road to get as many kilometres in as possible. While eating lunch at the Punaruku Marae,Stefan

came past. We had a chat about how far we would push through today. Initially I was thinking of heading towards Oakura Bay but Stefan pointed out a river near Helena Bay that we should aim for. He went on ahead as I finished lunch and we played leap frog on the road for about 10km. As one of us pulled up for a break the other would over take. He caught me again as I collected water from the road side about 2km out of Helena Bay and we walked the rest of the way into the small community.

Helena Bay is lovely. Small but perfect beach. The stream we were aiming for with still a little further on and I just couldn’t do it. My feet were aching after such a long day of road bashing. We looked around but all the ideal camp spots wete signed clearly with no camping. But I was desperate to be done for the day. Seeing a couple of locals renovating a house I approached them to see if they knew where we could camp. Peter, the owner said, “what about here?”, pointing to the back yard. Perfect! We have room for tents, a toilet and water. What more could you want? And so it is I find myself writing today’s blog in my tent in Peter’s backyard as they continue sanding, nailing and general bashing about.

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imageKiwi’s are such awesome people. From all the people I’ve met us far, locals and trampers, I’m finding that most have inherently good hearts and are willing to help each other out. The property is a stones throw from the beach. Cooling my feet and legs down in the sea was very therapeutic.

Later the rest of todays gang, Michala,  Shana, Zeeda, Petra along with Vicky and Sebastian from Austria all arrived on the scene but chose to camp by the river with the no camping signs. As it turns out they had met Gaye the president of Teal Bay something a rather who gave them express permission to camp where ever they like, and if anyone says anything tell them Gaye said it was ok. I think they have the better scenery but we had the better deal with access to facilities.

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