Melbourne cup, a great horse race and a chance for us to wangle nearly two weeks off work! So off to NZ hiking again 😎
A quick flight across the ditch and a hire car later and we are off on another trek. Because NZ won’t let you bring in food the first part of any trip here is collecting food. The two big Aussie supermarkets are here in disguise. Countdown is Woolworths and New World is Coles, both sell most of the same stuff available in Oz. There is also Pack and Save and a bunch of Four Square stores which are like an Oz IGA. 

Te Paki coastal track

This is a tramp around the coast at the northern tip of NZ. The kiwis rate this as an easy walk, which just means your not on you hands and knees clamouring up tree roots in the mud.

After a few phone calls we managed to get a local transport operator that has just started up to do the drop off and pick up for the walk. Cost us NZ$180 all up, including secure parking which is apparently an issue. 😨

The first day was predicted to bucket rain most of the day. Instead we had low cloud and a gentle breeze.  A long day ensued, starting with an 8km stroll along the beach at Spirits Bay. 

The beach ends at the very picturesque Pandora Bay. This is a great sheltered camp site that I would recommend to anyone doing the tramp.

The track leaves the beach and goes over the headlands for a few km,  or at low tide you can get around the rocks. We attempted the rocks but the tide was coming up so back we went and over the top. 

We camped at Tapotupotu Bay for the night, along with every other camper van in NZ. Seemed like hundreds of them had all swarmed on the one campsite!I

The next day we left them all behind and followed the cliffs along to Cape Rengia via Sandy Bay. Lots of low cloud hid the views down to about 100m. Below that the spectacular coastline was visible.

From Sandy Bay it’s a steep climb back up to the lookout at Cape Rengia and all the tourists (we’re trampers 😚).

From the cape we could see south down the coast towards our next camp at Twilight Bay. Named after a ship that sank nearby.

Lots of cliffs and two long beaches later we arrived at camp. This is the first camp for trampers doing the Te-Aroaoa walk from the top of NZ to the bottom, all 3000km. By nightfall there was another 12 or more arrived. People from all over the world had come just for this walk. Germany, USA, Britain, Wales and a few Australians were represented. Lots of tips on food and gear were exchanged! 

They all left at sunrise the next day. Ahead of them is about 90km of beach walk over the next three days. It’s much easier at low tide,  so they were all eager to get started early. Part of me wanted to go with them. My brain said no! After the beach they have a week of mud and forrest followed by weeks of cow paddocks and back roads😥. We plan to do the South Island in 2019 which follows the mountains down the west coast, much nicer😍.

Our last day was along another beach. Then inland along Te Paki stream to wait for our ride. There are huge sand dunes here. We amused ourselves watching all the punters skiing and boarding the dunes. No injuries that we could see, looked like a lot of fun!

Hillary Trail

For the next stage of our adventure we decided to do the Hillary Trail. This Runs along the coastal area just to the west of Auckland and is managed by the Auckland council. The start is at the Arataki center which is literally at the end of the Auckland burbs. The walk is described as challenging, which of course means lots of mud and roots😍. 

We got all permitted up at the center and ready to go. The staff then asked where we were staying the night, and suggested we camp on the lawn out the front. The gates to the center are locked at 9pm and we had our own toilet block😉. All was peaceful till the security dude rocked up who knew nothing about camping on the lawn. Luckily we had paid $8 for the privilege so we had a permit. He was there till 3am so we now had our own security. Peace once again returned to our camp. That lasted till the fire brigade rocked up and blocked off the road and proceeded to do drills. The security dude didn’t know about them either. They had pumps and hoses, generators, flood lights, the full set of boys toys. So we had live entertainment for an hour or so of squirting and pumping. I guess dinner must have been on as they all disappeared about 9.30pm and finally left us in peace.

The next morning we had all the joggers and walkers asking about camping on the lawn so we packed up and headed off to avoid any more questioning. 

The track winds its way down from Arataki through lots of dense fern and kauri Forrest. There are still large stands of kauri that escaped logging. A lot are over 2m thick in the trunk. Along the way are boot washing stations to try and stop the spread of a fungus that is killing the kauri. 

There are also lots of introduced pests like possums and stoats that decimate the native wildlife. Park management actively trap and poison them. 

This also Stag Horn fern heaven. There are thousands of them all through the canopy. 

We camped the night at Karamatura camp ground. Where the resident ducks followed us around looking for a free feed. 

Overnight NZ turned on its famous weather. I think we had 25mm. Lucky for us it cleared up by 9am. To avoid some of the mud we went around on the road up to Mt Donald McLean where we joined up with the track again and the mud 😫

From here the track follows a narrow Ridge for a few km right down to the ocean. Great views all the way!

About 4pm we trudged into the camp at Whatipu to be greeted by Wayne the owner who is a greenie. By nightfall all the camper vans that were at Cape Rengia had descended on us again. Wayne did the rounds collecting his fees and spent a lot of time talking greenie stuff with us. 

The next morning Wayne appeared again, this time with a couple of hard boiled eggs for us. Apparently this service only extends to walkers on the Hillary Trail.

From Whatipu we headed north up over a couple of headlands to Tunnel Point campsite.

 Lots of birdlife along the way, ducks, geese etc. All of the beaches are black sand that sparkles in the sunlight, quite pretty. 

Tunnel Point is an old logging camp. There is an old boiler still remaining and a tunnel through the narrow head land that was used to transport the logs through.

For our last day on the Hillary Trail we headed up the beach to Karekare along the black sands, then along the narrow cliff tops to Piha. Fantastic views all the way!

We were planning on staying in Piha but got there by lunchtime. The lady at the local campground suggested we get some lunch and try to hitch a ride back to our car. If we were still around she was going to town later and would give us a ride. After a fantastic lunch at the local Cafe we made a fairly poor attempt to hitch a ride. The locals were offering all sorts of advice as we aren’t too good at hitching. After a few unsuccessful attempts a kind lady who had been watching us took pity and offered us a lift! Her name is Robyn, turns out she is part Aussie, part Kiwi and has spent a lot of time in both countries. She took us all the way back to our car😁.