Day 28: Auckland to Hunua Falls

Distance travelled today: 33km

Total TA distance covered: 673km

I skipped the city section this morning and at least a day and a half of road walking through city suburbs, the airport and industrial areas, having walked through these areas before, catching a train from Auckland metro to Manurewa 2km off the trail.

The morning was an uneventful road walk following very busy roads towards the Brookby area. The reason for the roads busyness, the Brookby Quarry. Trucks were continual both ways in lots of 2 or 3, sometimes four. Truck and trailer either empty or full back and forth from the quarry delivering their rock to surrounding areas. This made for tricky walking. And not much verge to walk on and I had to be alert to the traffic. I found myself constantly swapping surfaces under my feet from gutters, stoney verges, bitumen and grassy verges where they were present.

Things got a little quieter on reaching the quarry and turning off onto Kimptons Road to climb up high through pines to a great view looking back north towards Auckland. The Spire stood out of the horizon and you could see the multiple planes lining up in wide formation to land at Auckland airport. It’s great to be past Auckland and moving along the TA. This vantage point provided a fantastic lunch stop. Windy but the views made up for it.

Climbing through the pines it was back onto actual trail for a while. At times the trail was overgrown with head high grass. I would look up and the trail would disappear from view but the obvious foot pad was always there. At times it looked like the trail just stopped but pushing aside some vegetation it was obvious again. So up and over the Clevedon Reserve it was and back down to the small, sleepy Clevedon community.

A cafe /bar was situated right on the trail and of course I had to stop for coffee. A little bit further on it was over the Clevedon Wharf bridge and onto McNicols Road initially bitumen before turning into a metalled road. I loved this road. I was a nice area with country blocks and small acreages. There was some traffic but nothing like this mornings. There was also a quarry further up this road and associated trucks but minimal. Plenty of room for everyone.

Just after this second quarry and on the metalled road I came across Chris and Cathi popping up out of know where from the river. I hadn’t seen these guys since Peach Cove Hut more than a week ago. We walked together for the rest of the afternoon following a great track south along Wairoa River. A nice benched and well formed track to end the day was perfect. Travelling with others and engaging in conversation was also a great way to watch the kilometres fly by.

On reaching the junction between trail and road we had a decision to make. The destination for this evening was Hunua Falls. Take the red pill….. Turn left and continue another kilometre up a bitumen road to link back onto the trail for a short section of up and down to the falls or take the blue pill…. turn right and take the short 1.5km all road walk. With more than 30kms under the belt already today the road walk seemed the quicker option.

We reached the falls and took the obligatory photos. There is a sculpture of an elaborate golden picture frame right in front of the falls which provides the perfect spot to place yourself in the picture with the falls as a backdrop.

The only problem now, as a council reserve there is meant to be no camping. Access is open to vehicles but a gate closes at 7pm. Here’s hoping that an officious council ranger doesn’t fully check the place before closing the gates. Until then its sit tight until after 7pm, wait for members of the public to leave and find an opportunity to pitch tents for the night.

It really is a shame there is no camping here. I can understand the council wanting to minimise the impact by not allowing camping but surely they had in mind car campers and Wicked van backpackers, as it is easy access, who, if camping were allowed may be present a lot of the time and cause damage or leave litter. It’s a lovely area. But what is the Te Araroa tramper to do? Camping infrastructure is absolutely minimal for us on long sections of trail through built up areas. This being just one section. Having walked 32km today already I’m not about to walk another half day to an official camping site. And there is nothing in between.

I reckon all the TA trampers are low impact. We are accustomed to leaving nothing and taking only photos. Pitching a tent for a night will have minimal impact. There are toilets here, so it’s not like will be crapping in the woods and we will guarantee to take all rubbish with us – this is what we do, as well as pick up other litter along the trail and remove it.

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