This is the second of a couple of new posts, read "Te Araroada" first for optimum flow!
I arrived in Ngunguru a couple of minutes before 15:00 and found the Americans sitting in the alley next to the local corner shop, as proper hiker trash (trail term for hikers in town, smelly, dirty and constantly looking for free wifi / power outlets for charging devices. Often found in odd shady places). When writing this I'm at a McDonald's, eating my third ice cream in three hours, using their unlimited wifi and charging my power pack....
We met up with Ian the South African and his wife. The borrowed sea kayaks from a guy on the north shore of Ngunguru inlet, taking us to the south beach. From there we were supposed to walk along the coast down to Whangarei heads. We were four persons and two packs on two sea kayaks the first round. The winds were hard to manage since the rudder was mainly in the air due to Nuthatch sitting in the front weighing down the kayak.
Eventually made it over roughly 500 meters of windy inlet full of currents, soaking wet and laughing hard all the way. Jonah spotted a sting ray just below our kayak just before the South beach. Cool!
When Nuthatch and Ian went back to get my pack and leave the other kayak on the northern beach, we stumbled across James. He owned the property we were about to cross in order to continue on a gravel road towards Whangarei. He started arguing about us being on his property and was remarkably upset by the fact that we didn't get his $10 boat ride over the inlet. The trail notes didn't say anything about the monopoly he claimed on this river crossing. We didn't have cash so James drove his boat out to the kayak, chewed out the kayak owner and then dragged Nuthatch into his boat, almost capsizing the kayak. He made us pay the money for crossing his property. As soon as the money was paid, he flipped and became the nicest person offering us bananas and water. Really strange behavior and the first rotten kiwi egg I met so far. They are very rare. This left a bitter taste and the Americans were really surprised of this kind of monopoly costing hikers money. $10 is not much at all, but if there's fees like that almost every day, it sums up big in the end. We hiked another 10 km of gravel road until camp. Next morning we went the last 3 km of gravel road and then hit paved road again, this time for 35km straight. More paved road combined with the strange experience the day before made us get a hitch into Whangarei to sort out how much roads we were to endure on the north island, and what our other possibilities were.
We got a hitch with Jen, a thick skinned but super kind lady who bought us coffee and listened closely to our experiences along the trail.
After that we set out to find information about hiking on the north island, but in the bush instead of the roads...
It took us one day to gather information and another to sort some trails out.
We stayed at an amazing hostel in Whangarei, called "the cell block". Most friendly hostel owner I've met. If you ever want to stay on a hostel in Whangarei, stay there.
We basically looked for the biggest patches of unbroken forest and mapped trails there. I checked the amount of road walking on the north island and counted 780 km including gravel roads and bush tracks shorter than 15 km.
We mapped trails in Waitakere, Hunua, Coromandel, Kaimai, Tongariro NP, Kaimanawa, Kaweka, Ruahine and Tararua ranges. All mountains with forest or above tree line trails. Not really covering the 780 km but far more exciting and rough.
After mapping we set out to check out glow worm caves in Whangarei. Awesome connecting cave systems to with sometimes waist deep water, army crawling narrow passages, stalactites, fresh water eels and of course glow worms.
After we were done with the caves, yoga and some barefoot bouldering, we met Annie. She was from the same town as Jonah and they apparently shared some friends. Annie should drive down to Auckland the next day and we could get a ride with her if we arranged her campervan back to back seat configuration. Said and done, we fixed her car after some arrangements and headed to Auckland, with a lot of coffee and candy in the car.
When almost at the location, Annie should do a U-turn and missed the pavement. Boom, flat tyre...
Luckily she had a spare tyre and we changed it for her while she called the closest tyre changer around. They came out to fill up the spare tyre and we went to change her flat tyre. In ten minutes she had a new tyre and we got free coffee vouchers for visiting the tyre changer so we went for some lunch and coffee together. After that she left us at the Queens wharf for us to get the ferry to Denis...