Te Araroa Trail – Day 26
Friday, November 24, 2023
Distance/ Total: 34.7 km / 21.6 mi
I woke up to the sound of a light sprinkle pattering against the roof of my tent. It was barely after 5:00 am and due to the tides I really didn’t need to leave camp before 9:00 am. I rolled over and fell back to sleep.
I woke up again about 6:30 and the rain had stopped and the wind had picked up and dried out the tent. I packed up my gear and as I crawled out of my tent a heavy rain blew through. I took shelter in the campground game room and waited for it to stop. It blew through quickly and the sun popped out from behind the clouds. The wind was still blowing so I left my tent for the sun and wind to dry.
About 8:30 I decided I needed to pack up my tent and just as I went out to do that it started raining again. I ended up packing up my tent wet for the day.
It continued raining and Jamie and I started down the trail together. The first 2 km was walking through grassy fields and some tangled trees around the Okura River Estuary.
We reached the crossing point of the river and found Tom from Sweden there waiting for a Guinea pig to try out the water depth. I volunteered. Moving all my gear to the top of my pack, I headed out across the river. It had split into 3 flows at low tide. The first was knee deep, the second only ankle deep, and the third was a little less than waist deep. Not near as deep as some of the reports we had read.
Once to the other side the trail climbed up onto some farmland and followed the coastline around to Long Bay where it dropped down to a sandy beach walk for awhile.
The rest of the day was a series of beach walks followed by road walks or cliff tracks around the rocky cliffs and repeated again and again. We stopped near Browns Bay and grabbed some lunch and continued on. The tide continued to come in and we were scurrying between waves in places to get around some rocks or other obstacles.
To my surprise one of the Cliff tracks led to an old WWII concrete gun bunkers nestled on a hill overlooking Auckland Harbor. It had been named JF Kennedy Memorial Park.
The real highlight of the day was the cannon array at the top of North Head. Again left from WWII they were placed to protect Auckland Harbor from German and Japanese ships.
Coming down the hill I reached the Devonport Ferry Terminal just in time to buy a ticket and board the 19:15 ferry. (7:15pm). It was a short 12 minute ride across the harbor and Jamie and I stopped to put on our jackets since the cold wind was whipping down between the buildings. We walked down Queen St. for about 1km before we said our goodbyes as Jamie turned off to his hostel and I continued down to mine.
I arrived at the hostel about 8:00, checked in, and headed across the street to a Mexican restaurant – I’ve been craving Mexican food which seems to be pretty scarce in Northern New Zealand. It was a build your own burrito place and it tasted great (for New Zealand – I could use a little more spice).
Back at the hostel, I showered and crawled into bed about 10:00 exhausted from the days hike.