Tātou Araroa — Episode 4: Famous Five — Five take on the Northland Forests.

The Famous Five, missing Scott, our 6"4 totara, koroua and pace setter.

Progress

Progress :)

We’ve left the Far North! Now we’re just in the North! The beautiful Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands to be precise. At KM 221 we’re 7.3% done and feeling good.

Companions

We’ve made some trail friends. (Ooh trail friends….) Paul, a 36yr old Irishman walking on his own who’s famous on the trail for his 46km monster day on 90 Mile Beach which destroyed both his soul and his sole.

Jane and Scott are from New Plymouth. These proud ‘naki folk have led a fascinating life, from living in the Middle East to running a business selling lavender products. Following their boys leaving home they made a decision during lockdown to take up Te Araroa’s challenges.

Hugely generous and great conversation, it’s been a pleasure to walk some tough sections with these great people.

Mud mud mud….

Imagine this for 10 hours….

Certain sections of Te Araroa strike fear into the heart of any throughhiker; the ridgelines in the Tararuas, the 11 days of wilderness in the Richmond Ranges and the 800m scramble up the exposed shale rockface of the Waiau Pass being but a few. On Day 5 we faced one of those infamous sections — Raetea Forest, or “Mud Hell” as it’s known as.

An 11 hour 18.5km slog over and around 4 high points, over slippery and treacherous roots and horrific horrific mud, the Raetea Forest is a physical and mental assault on the body. The dazed hippy we met at camp before the forest said many spirits live in the forest, they’ve chosen a truly stunning and rugged place to enchant, but personally when we do eventually pass on from this world, please don’t send us there!

PM — Post-Mudpocalypse

The sadness of the dairy closure, followed by the joy of a stream walk!

Our muddy day was followed by a short 20km jaunt along forest roads (and for a few nervous KM along State Highway 1) passed the “World Famous in Mangamuka” Mangamuka Dairy — closed, unfortunately, denying us their notoriously large burgers. We headed onto Apple Dam Campsite with its zero facilities and tent peg bending bedrock.

The following day was our highlight of the trail so far, a diverse and taxing 10hr day of forest roads, a steep and an unending staircase up a ridge. It did however feature a stunning stream walk meandering along the crystalline waters of the Mangapukahukahu (try saying that 10 times) Stream. Wading knee-deep in a remote stream amongst ancient old forests was genuinely an experience we will remember for a long time.

Another 20km of South Englandesque rolling hillside, a sprint across a road bridge on State Highway 10 with no shoulder, a gentle amble along Kerikeri river and here we are!

Mental Health

New Zealand is a beautiful country, it’s stunning landscapes and fascinating wildlife eclipsed only by the truly genuine and heartfelt generosity of its people. Behind this global image of paradise and tranquility, however, lie some dark statistics.

New Zealand ranks in the top 10 of OECD nations in rates of diagnosed depression and anxiety and even higher in rates of suicide. These numbers are even gloomier when you look at suicide rates in Young People.

Working with Young People as we both do, we’re very passionate especially about helping them. This is why we are proudly raising funds for the Mental Health Foundation.

A nga mihi nui to those who have donated so far. My favorite so far being the donation of $30.08 — or 1 cent for each KM we walk — surely we’re worth that!

You can donate easily via our fundraising page HERE

Ruia te pō, ka ao, ka awatea

Move from the darkness into the light

Trail angels continued…..

Kia ora to Ollie and Mia for hosting us on our Southbound leg. It’s been massive for us to rest and recuperate at your lovely home. Driving us the 250m from the trail to your home yesterday was a superb end to the section!

To the farmer who drove us along SH1 after seven fruitless minutes of trying to hitch (note: it’s a detour due to closed forest — not on the trail so it’s not cheating) — thank you!

The amazing staff at Hunting and Fishing in Kaitaia who by hook and by crook got Sarah’s feet back together and moving again after the beach.

Next up…

We’re walking somewhere very important tomorrow. We’re walking to Paihia via Waitangi. I will talk more about Waitangi later, but for many, the events at Waitangi in early 1840 mark the formation of modern New Zealand.

From Paihia we head South (surprise surprise) on our way towards Whangarei, Waipu and…. Auckland.

Catch Episode 5 HERE

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