This post takes place between December 15th and 18th.
After leaving Annie in the Queens wharf, we headed for Bucklands beach to meet up with Denis, a true trail angel that hosted Nuthatch when she arrived in Auckland. He has done a lot of traveling and hiking himself and he is super keen on helping other hikers. We stayed at Denis' house for three nights. First day we tried to run as many errands as possible, like getting DOC hut passes and resupplying for our upcoming hike. We also decided to cook to show our appreciation for letting us stay in their house. The next day we did a (short) part of the Hillary track in the Waitakere ranges west of Auckland. This was our first hike of the TA and we were filled with the hyped feeling of rebellion against this big association called the Te Araroa Trust. Our way to rebel against them was to hike our own trails from now on. But we sure felt punk! And a bit bad ass, choosing to conquer the most rugged mountains on the north island (with mostly public access, the eastern ranges are mostly Maori land and requires permit unfortunately). Or actually, you'll never conquer a mountain range, you'll just be lucky enough to pass it alive possibly filled with good memories.
Our aim was to start at Huia and end up around Piha beach. Roughly 30 km with day packs would be a fairly easy thing to do. And Denis drove us 45 minutes to Huia, a bit to kind!!
We started of going too far and spent half an hour getting back on track, with cows bluff charging us amongst other things. Waitakere was beautiful and rugged and we stopped like every 15 minutes to inhale the beauty.
We eventually reached Whatipu in the south west corner of Waitakere, 13 km done. Stopped there for lunch and yoga. And cave exploration, bird watching, black sand beaching and some more yoga and all of a sudden, the clock was pick up time. In other words, a splurge day. But Whatipu was awesome and we really enjoyed it. I guess that's what matters at the end of the day. Denis also picked us up and brought cold beer. Although he mentioned that we probably didn't deserve it as much as we were supposed to...
The third morning we left for the Hunua ranges, well fed and full of energy for our upcoming adventure of non road walking. Don't need to tell that Denis drove us there, an hour at 06:30 in the morning..
I still keep getting surprised and astounded by the kindness amongst the kiwis. It's hard to describe it, but it makes me feel so welcome and that gratifies me. I guess I'll try to pay it forward as much as I can while I'm here and also when I get home...