Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Last Post

Im not sure if I will be making further posts here but I just liked the title.

Well folks I finally made it!  After 2.5 years and 4400km I reached Cape Reinga on Thursday 27th March at 12 noon.  Man it felt good to finally finish. After reaching the lighthouse and being greeted by a dozen friends and family I then made my way down to the beach and washed my hands in the sea. As this is what I did when I left Bluff. While I was there I collected my friends Gwen and Ringi who had gone to the beach in the mistaken belief that I would walk around the rocks. Instead I came along the Coastal Walkway. Once we were back at the lighthouse we assembled in the car park, I made a short speech and we all had bubbly, kindly supplied by Charissa.

Friends & Family
More friends
My granddaughter Kaylah. You can just make out three dots on the beach, myself Gwen and Ringi.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

After being holed up at the Rockhouse Backpackers for two days waiting for the remains of Cyclone Lusi to blow through  I was keen to get back on the road again on Monday 17th March. It was 10km of walking on the main road to Awanui where I booked into a run down motel unit behind the hotel. Another 17km of road walking brought me to Kaimaumau Road, from where I hitched back to Awanui.

It took over an hour to get a ride next morning and I was then dropped off 5 km from my start point so it was 10am before I "officially" started to walk. It is 11 km down Kaimaumau Road to East Beach. I originally intended walking to the camp at Houhora Heads but after 3 people warned me about a deep stream I turned up a farm track, after 12km, and 2 km before Houhora. The track eventually led me to a farmhouse where Croydon gave me tea and bickies along with directions to the road. From there I hitched into Pukenui and stayed at the camp. Although I'd walked 32 km (all with the pack) I could only count 27 km for the day. I must have looked like I needed feeding up as Juan a young Argentinian, one of several seasonal orchard workers living at the camp, gave me water melon and avocado. This started a trend for the next few days of people giving me food!

Next morning Jo, the camp owner, was heading south and dropped me off at my start point. It was an easy 3 km road walk back to the camp where I picked up my pack, bought supplies at the shop and headed north 13 km up SH1 and then 4 km of metal road to Rawara Beach. I met Eric & Tony, two guys in their 60's who have been mates since childhood, on a boys camping trip. They were due to start heading home next day and explained that they had brought too much food with them. Would I help them out?  I'm pleased to report that I did my best to help them diminish their food and beer supplies! I had two platefuls of steak, pork chops, potato, green beans & peas.

When I set off on Thursday morning they gave me ham and a bag of tomatoes. I walked 13 km up the beach along Greta Expectation Bay. On the way I met Bobby and his two adult nephews fishing, they donated a bag of feijoa's and a bag of home baking to my food supplies! A vehicle track crosses the sand spit which the locals call "The Crossing" and which I christened 'The Sahara Crossing" as it is all sand with little vegetation. After hiding my pack in the sand dunes I then recrossed the crossing and walked another 15 km around Kokota (the Sandspit). After collecting my pack I failed to find a vehicle track marked on my map and headed across the sand dunes and eventually made camp in the dunes after 35 km for the day. My tent pegs were useless in the sand but I managed to find an old fence baton which I smashed into spike shaped pieces and they did the job.

The Sahara Crossing

On Friday morning I turned off the beach after 1 km and took a forestry track 6 km to SH1. I saw two cars and a logging truck on the forestry track, the second car stopped. I thought I was going to be told off for trespassing but the driver asked me where I was from. He then told me that  the TV news had reported that the police were looking for me as my family were worried about me! I explained that it must be a case of mistaken identity as I had received texts from my family the night before. I was fascinated to watch him, as he had a quarter inch of cigarette stuck to his lip which moved up and down as he talked. Once on the main road I did another 10km before it rained and I then hitched into Waitiki Landing. I booked into "The Dungeon" a windowless room, but at least it had a bed and I hadn't been sleeping very well in my tent. I was to stay here 3  nights during which time Lyle the manager donated snapper fillets and eggs to my menu. I also met Ron an Australian who had just biked from Bluff to Cape Reinga in 47 days so I helped him celebrate with a beer. The dungeon was blacker than a black cat in a coal locker at midnight and I slept soundly, the sound was me snoring!

It took  nearly as long to hitch back to my start point next day as it did to walk the 10km back to Waitiki Landing. As I was now ahead of schedule I took Sunday off.

It was an easy 15km of road walking to Spirits Bay on Monday where I set up my tent in the DOC camp. From there the Cape Reinga Walkway starts.

On Tuesday I walked 3km up the beach to Pandora where there is a small DOC shelter and then 14km up a track over hills to Taputaputo Bay. I set up my tent for the last time and spent two nights here. I met Tony and Kath who loaned me a magazine, as I was out of reading material, and bought me chocolate when they went out. Also Lesley and Colin gave me newspapers and muesli bars as well as selling me a gas bottle. On the first night my tent was full of mosquitoes but the wind kept them at bay on the second night.

Finally on Thursday morning I set off to cover the remaining 5km to Cape Reinga.  Up and down a couple of steep hills. Then there was my son Adam, daughter in law Adele, grandson Cory and granddaughter Kaylah who had walked down to meet me. Nearly there Poppy!

On the final approach to Cape Reinga, up and down a couple of hills.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Holed Up In Karikari Peninsula As Storm Blows Through

On Friday 7th March I caught a bus back to Kerikeri. Bob picked me up from the bus stop and I spent another pleasant stay with him and Helen. Next day I walked on roads towards Matauri Bay. Jan a rural postie took my pack 3km and I collected it from the local gas station, where I was given oranges. After 25km I then hitched to Matauri Bay and booked into the camp. Next morning I hitched back and walked the remaining 17km back to camp. In the afternoon I visited the Rainbow Warrior memorial above the camp. The ship is now a dive wreck, not far off the coast.

Rainbow Warrior memorial Matauri Bay
After a 2nd night of poor sleep in my tent, I left Matauri Bay and headed for Whangaroa 25km away, all on roads. There were some spectacular views looking back down on Matauri Bay. At Wainui Bay I met Sailor walking on the road. We walked together for a couple of kms.  He's in his twenties and as we walked he told me about his life. He has 7 brothers and sisters, although his father has 15 children!  I had my big pack and Sailor wasn't carrying anything but I found I easily outpaced him up the hills and had to keep slowing down. Later a van stopped to offer me a ride and agreed to take my pack the final 7km to the camp.  Once at the camp I booked into a cabin and finally got a good nights sleep, despite the dozens of mosquito's in the room .

Next day I called in at a Farm Hostel after 12kkm but it was full. I managed 22km on SH10 towards Mangonui when a couple of Brazilian tourists did a u turn to offer me a ride.  I booked into a small backpackers room at the Mangonui Hotel. I was disappointed with the pub meal that night as the steak was full of gristle. Two things made me smile. One of the toilets at the pub was out of order and the sign said "Sorry for any inconvenience". The local shop had a bin of dated stock, one of the items was a box of condoms!

It took 30 minutes next morning to get a ride back to where I'd been picked up the day before and I walked the 12km back to the pub and collected my pack. The local information centre had advised me that there is a backpackers at Cable Bay. I walked 5km via roads and Coopers Beach to Cable Bay only to discover there are lots of B&B's but no backpackers. Jane, the local shopkeeper, was heading to Kaitia and gave me a ride to The Rockhouse Backpackers on Karikari Peninisular. Tonight will be my 5th night here.

This is quite a small establishment with just 6 backpackers beds. I have a large room with a small kitchen, an en-suite shower and toilet, for $30 a night. On Thursday I hitched back to Cable Bay and walked back here where I had lunch and then headed for Tokerau Beach via a rough track. I took a wrong turning and ended up crashing through gorse, scrub and an overgrown dry lake bed. Once on the beach I realized that I'd lost my bandana in the scrub. It was the 3rd one I'd lost so far and had been with me since Wellington. Once on the beach I removed my boots and walked for 9km down the sandy beach. Years ago this used to be the only way in and was used as a road. There is a 30km hour speed limit on the beach but twice I was passed by cars doing what seemed like 100km. At the end of the beach I walked to Matai Bay Rd and, after having takeaways for dinner, hitched back here having walked 24km for the day.

Friday was a big day of 34km. Initially it was going to be a day off but as a large storm was forecast for Saturday and Sunday I decided to take those days off instead. I easily got a ride back to my start point and walked towards Matai Bay. A track leads down to Karikari Beach and I walked the entire 6km  of beautiful sandy beach without seeing anyone. In fact I spoke to nobody all day.  I followed cattle tracks around the rocky headland between  Karikari Beach and Puwheke Beach. Another 3km of beach brought me to a vehicle track, 6km of roads then 7km of rough vehicle track and finally 4km of road. It had been threatening to rain all day and there had been a few short showers. Once I reached the main road and tried to hitch the rain started in earnest, so I phoned Ian the owner of the backpackers and he kindly picked me up.
Karikari Beach

Yesterday it was baked bean weather, wet and windy, as Cyclone Lusi made its way south. There has been no major damage here but further south there has been flooding and power cuts.

I'm still on track to make the final 156 km's to Cape Reinga on Thursday 27th March at 12 noon.

About a dozen or so family and friends have said they will be there to greet me and I'm really looking forward to that.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Last Leg

Tomorrow I catch the bus to Kerikeri and on Saturday start the final leg of my journey. Although "final leg" may not be the right expression when referring to a walk.

I don't usually preplan where I will be on a particular day but in this case I have calculated my end date and time, as several people have expressed a desire to be at Cape Reinga when I get there.

Please put the following into your diary:

12 noon on Thursday 27th March.

Apart from WW3 breaking out or any such major disaster I will stick to that date and time.  I have allowed a few rest days between now and then. If I should get delayed at any stage I will abandon rest days until I catch up.

It does seem unreal to be finally coming to the finish.

See you all on the 27th.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Nearing The Top & The End

On Thursday 27th February I reached Kerikeri in the far north.

 My hosts in Whangarei, Lisca, Rhianon & Chris had arranged accommodation at Whangarei Heads with friends of theirs Gary & Sue. On Wednesday 12th February Chris dropped my pack at Gary's workplace, so I had an easy walk through Whangarei and over the new river bridge. After walking on the road I took a walkway around the coast past Onerahi. The rest of the 32km for the day was on the road. On the way I met Kip who owns a B&B, he offered me a free bed for the night. When I explained that I already had a bed for the night he said "well if they mistreat you, come back here".  At Parua Bay I bought the local paper with an article about my walk. The photo was taken in such a way that my feet took up the biggest part of it. Sue and Gary looked after me with a pleasant room, food and conversation. They entertained me with their travel stories.

I only managed 16km next day but it was a hard days walking. Initially along the road and then by walking tracks to WW2 gun emplacements and then to Smugglers Cove. I was pleased not to have my pack with me as what came next on the Bream Head Track was a series of steps up past Mt Lion. I stopped often as the steps just went on and up, then up some more. When I thought it couldn't go up any more, it did! Then more, and yet more again!  The 5km to Ocean Beach took 3.5 hours. Once there, I texted Gary who brought my pack and I set up my tent.

Smugglers Cove from part way up the Bream Head Track
Next morning I got wet feet trying to get around a rocky outcrop, then had to retrace my steps and go over a high sandbank. After 6km of beach I turned onto Kauri Mountain Rd and then onto a track over Kauri Mountain (just 245m high). Later as I was walking on the road again Roz and Hugh stopped and invited me to their B&B, Tidesong, for lunch. Over lunch I learnt that last year Hugh had a kidney transplant and Ros provided the kidney. After a large lunch I didn't feel like going much further and so I was given a room for the night (and later dinner) at very a reasonable rate.

Hugh and son Bruce ferried my pack 2km up the estuary next morning while Ros walked with me up the road. Shortly after I crossed the Pataua footbridge across an estuary. 14km of road then brought me to the Mackarel Forest Track. Despite being overgrown I really enjoyed this stretch of track, as it meandered beside a pine plantation and a stream. Another 4km of road walking brought me back to the main road where I hitched to Tutukaka. I was picked up by Peter who not only knew my hosts from last night but also my sons boss in Whangamata. I booked into a backpackers room at the Motor Camp for 3 nights after walking 20km for the day.
Ros,Hugh & Bruce. 

The following day I hitched back to my start point and walked the 20km back to the camp mostly on roads but also over rocks along the coast. Monday was a rest day and I did a short walk to a lighthouse.

When I set off on Tuesday it was threatening rain but we only had a few spits. On the way to Matapouri my pack was taken on for about a km. Once at Matapouri I left my pack with the helpful male shopkeeper who was wearing a lovely short white dress.  I walked along the beach and then the Whalebay Walkway before returning and collecting my pack. From Sandy Bay a 6km walkway took me to Whananaki where I walked across the 400m pedestrian bridge to the Motor Camp. The weather didn't look too promising so I booked into a cabin. Later a fine misty rain rolled in and stayed for the next couple of days.

Footbridge at Whananaki
After 2 days and 3 nights I left Whananaki on Friday 21st at 8am and followed the Te Araroa trail through pine forests and bush. The track was quite steep and slippery in places after the rain. It took 6 hours to cover 10km, including an hour I lost after taking a wrong turning and having to retrace my steps. Later, on the road, I hitched to Whangaruru and stayed at the Motor Camp.
Next morning I hitched back and Bill picked me up and went 4km out of his way to drop me at my start point. It was just a 13km walk back to the camp.

On Sunday it was a 12km walk on a sealed road to The Farm where I appeared to be the only guest at this very busy backpackers. The owners Ellen and Michael have 9 children and also employ a lot of  WWOOFERS to help out with school camps, horse treks and trail bike riding. I was given a room with an ensuite for $20.

On Monday I walked 21km along roads, stopping for lunch at lovely Te Uenga Bay where people were kayaking and swimming in the blue water. At Jacks Bay I was offered a ride to Russell. Bruce dropped me off at the Oranga Bay Holiday Park. The cabins were too expensive for me and the tent sites were the most expensive I've come across yet at $25, although they discounted it to $22. As Don the owner was going into Russell later he agreed to take me in to do some shopping.  When we got back his wife Angela said " well you should be very happy, you've had good value for $22". I met a family staying at the camp who live in Whangamata and know my son and daughter in law. When they read about me in their local paper they had gone down to the road to wait with oranges, but I'd already gone past. Hopefully the oranges were for eating not throwing!

Next morning as I left the camp I noticed a, newly placed, blackboard sign saying "Tent Sites from $19". Bruce who picked me up the day before owned the local school buses and so I was able to get a ride back to my start point on a school bus. It was 10km of road walking back to the camp, on the way I picked up an expired passport on the side of the road, so I placed it in the next mailbox I came to. I wonder what the people thought when they next collected their mail! As my Sherpas did not turn up again I had to carry my own pack for the rest of the day. A 4km track that seemed much longer, due to some steep bits, took me to Okiato. Unusually I saw lots of other people walking the track. At Okiato I took the ferry to Opua, a bargain at $1! A 6km coastal track then took me to Paihia where I stayed in a backpackers for two nights

Wednesday was a day off and I took the ferry to Russell and back. On Thursday I left Paihia and walked to Kerikeri via Waitangi. At Mt Bledisloe I turned into the forest and was confronted by a sign saying it was closed to the public, due to logging operations. I phoned the DOC number displayed on the sign and spoke to Steve. He is that most unusual of people, friendly, helpful and knowledgable. He advised me that, as my route would not go through the logging area, I could proceed. After 11km of forestry road I then walked on public roads to Kerikeri and past the Stone Store to the home of Bob & Helen, relatives of friends. They have a lovely home and a large garden complete with a waterfall. Bob welcomed me with home brew.
Outside Stone Store Kerikeri, one of NZ's oldest buildings

On Friday morning Bob drove me back into Kerikeri from where I caught the bus to Hamilton.
I am here for a week and then back to Kerikeri and the final segment to Cape Reinga.

Total walked so far = 4122km.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Getting There (Now in Whangarei)

I restarted walking on Saturday 1st February with a 32km day. From Arkles Bay on Whangarporoa Peninisula, I took a mixture of footpaths and roads to Gulf Harbour and then walkways and  paths to Shakespear Park. My map showed the end of the peninsula to be Defence Force land and not to be entered but, as it was low tide, I was able to walk around it and beyond. After 3 hours of walking on the beach the tide was coming in, which resulted in wet feet as I edged around a sea cave. Just beyond the cave were steep rocks where someone had, conveniently, placed a rope. As I pulled myself over the edge I came face to boot with two startled Asian fishermen. " where you come from?" I eventually arrived in Orewa where I watched a Busker Festival and ate Chinese Takeaways for dinner.

Te Horui Bay, Whangaparoa Peninsula
On Sunday I felt tired, the pack felt heavy and I couldn't get into walking. Consequently I only covered 10km from Orewa to the Wenderholm Regional Park and booked into the camping ground.

I covered a more respectable 21km on Monday to Warkworth, all on roads. Most of it on State Highway 1.
My room at The Oaks Backpackers in Warkworth was hot and the window would only open a couple of inches, also a couple of other guests kept me awake cooking at 11.15 pm and using the computer, on the other side of the wall from my bed, until 12.30 am.

On Tuesday Kumal took my pack 10km to Matakana and I collected it from his work later than morning. Jackie stopped 4km down the road to offer a lift and took my pack the last 4km to Whangateau Holiday Park where I set up my tent. I spent the afternoon reading, in the lounge, and on returning to the tent I found that someone had set up a monster sized tent directly in front of it. My little tent looked like a pimple in comparison. The occupant of the bigger tent snored all night.

Wednesday was another 18km day, all on roads, firstly to Leigh. Traffic became lighter and the road turned to gravel and back to tar seal on the way to Pakiri. Two people stopped to offer rides but as I did not know where I would be stopping I carried my pack all day. Once at Pakiri Beach I hitch hiked into Wellsford, from where Mark Page collected me and I spent 2 nights staying with him and Loma. They are contractors to the company I used to work for and had invited me to stay once I reached their neck of the woods. Or perhaps that should be neck of the bush, as they have 500 acres of regenerating bush. They have no electricity or cell phone coverage. Next day they took me for a walk around and showed me the property. Possums, rats, stoats and weasels are being trapped, goats and pigs shot and neighbors cattle fenced off. Mark has developed a deep love affair with his bulldozer and mower while Loma is infatuated with the weed sprayer! They have an idyllic spot and I felt quite comfortable there, staying in the guest cabin.

The cabin on the left is where I stayed. The cabin on the right is Loma and Mark's. 

On Friday 7th February Mark and Loma drove me to Mangawhai Heads where, having established that both backpackers were full, we left my pack at the Motor Camp. They then drove me to Pakiri Beach from where I walked the 27km back to Mangawhai Heads. I had been worried about the depth of the water in a river crossing, at the start of the day, but it only came up to just above my ankles. After 15km of beach I could find no sign to show where to leave the beach and ended up overshooting the turn off. A route through forestry roads brought me back onto the roads to Mangawhai and then Mangawhai Heads. At some point I crossed into Northland, the last geographic region of my walk. It had rained on and off all day and as I set my tent up it began raining and rained on and off until the next morning. Despite it being a large camp there was nowhere to sit out of the rain. There is a kitchen (with notices advising guests not to sit on the benches) but no dining area or lounge.

During the night I kept waking with what felt like an insect tickling my skin. When I packed my tent away next morning I discovered it had been invaded by ants! The rain stopped as I left camp on Saturday morning.
I met a lady soon after, who inadvertently showed me the wrong path, an hour and a half later I was only .5km away from where I'd started. I then made a silly decision to walk on the road rather than retrace my steps and find the correct track. Later I missed the start of another coastal walkway and continued on the road to Waipu Cove. The tide was high which meant that yet again I had to walk on the road rather than the beach. I stayed at the Waipu Wanderers Backpackers after a 23km day.

From above Mangawhai heads looking south.

It was threatening rain on Sunday 9th February but stayed dry all day. The 20km walk seemed longer. The first 3 km was on roads and the next 5 km was on the beach. More road walking through Ruakaka brought me back to the beach where the tailwind wind blew sand and seed heads racing past. The seed heads were the size of golf balls and had many long spikes sticking out and reminded me of mini tumbleweeds. Expecting to see Clint Eastwood riding past on a mule, I whistled the theme tune to The Good, The Bad & The Ugly!
I left the beach at Marsden Point and walked roads to One Tree Point. My map showed a camp there but apparently it closed down many years ago. Having failed to find any affordable accommodation I hitched into Whangarei where I stayed at the Bunkdown Backpackers.

Yesterday morning I hitched back to my starting point and walked 31km back into Whangarei. Most of it was on SH1 with lots of fast traffic. Friends had given me contact details for Lisca, who had offered to put me up in Whangarei. She collected the pack and I from the backpackers. She, her daughter Rhianon, Chris (Rhianon's husband) and Chris's daughter Shayla have all made me very welcome. Today I am having a day of rest, updating this blog and restocking my nose bag.

I feel that the end is in sight and was excited to see my first road sign showing Cape Reinga. It is only 266 km from Whangarei by road but probably nearer to 500 km by my more easterly, coastal route.  

I have now walked over 2000 km in the North Island and a total of 3881 km.

Locals comment on corruption in Northland.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Auckland To Whangaparoa

Before I left Waiheke Island, Diana from the Waiheke Marketplace newspaper interviewed me and took photo's of Jan and I. (An article appeared in the Gulf News that week and in Waiheke Marketplace the next week.) Jan and  Mika then took me to the ferry terminal where I caught the ferry to Devonport. Once in Devonport I took a bus to Takapuna and booked into the Motor Camp. There was quite a wind blowing and heavy rain forecast so rather than be in my tent I took the cheapest bed available, $72 for a caravan for the night. After dropping off my pack I caught a bus back to Devonport and walked the 6km back to Takapuna, via North Head, beaches and roads. As it was low tide I managed to walk the final section over rocks and onto Takapuna Beach.

It rained overnight and the caravan was rocking in the wind, I was glad not to be in my tent. As it was still raining in the morning, and I only had 14km to walk that day, I stayed abed until 7.45am. The rain stopped just after I left at 9.50am. I mostly followed the coastal path but as it was very close to the beach the sea was blowing over the path in places and I had to revert to the streets for some sections.

Coastal Path north of  Takapuna

After 1.5km I met Fred walking his dog. As he lives 2km north of where I met him and was about to drive home he agreed to take my pack.  When I collected the pack I had a cuppa with Fred  before I went on my way. My destination for the day was Long Bay where there is a Regional Park. Unfortunately no camping is allowed in the park but I had been told about and phoned the  Sir Peter Blake, Marine Education & Recreation Centre (MERC). Their facility at Long Bay has accommodation for 70 as well as large kitchen and dining facilities. As they had no groups booked for that night they allowed me to stay free of charge. On arrival Lynette, who I had previously spoken to on the phone and who had arranged for me to stay, showed me around. Later I met Paul, the manager, who gave me advice about my route the next day.  I had the spacious complex to myself for the night. I am very appreciative of being allowed to stay at this wonderful place, especially since I was an unknown stranger.

The next day I initially made a wrong turning and ended up in a new housing development and no way through the security fencing. Once heading in the right direction 8km of road walking brought me to the Okura Walkway. This is a 6km walk through wonderful bush. I met many people using the walkway, including Jonathan and his grandson who were checking rat traps.
Once at Stillwater I went to the boat club to see if I could get a ride across the Weiti River. I was gruffly told  "no, you'll have to walk". As I walked away I was told to try at the Camping Ground. Backtracking to the camp, I initially found nobody around but eventually found Bruce working on his yacht, he agreed to take me across on his inflatable tender. The hundred yards across the river saved 15km of road walking.
Bruce took me across the Weiti River.

Once on the other side a rough track eventually led me to suburban streets and then to Arkles Bay    on the Whangaparoa  Peninsula.  While walking I met Maureen who was on her way to the shops. She showed me to the bus stop, as luck would have it a bus to Auckland arrived 4 minutes latter. On arrival in Auckland I caught another bus to Hamilton, where I am enjoying a few days with Charissa.  I will return north on Friday and resume walking on Saturday.

Total Km so far = 3682.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Waiheke Island

When I first started this adventure I am having, I met Jan on Stewart Island. We walked together for a few days and he told me about his life on Waiheke Island and about a planned 5 day around the island walk. He suggested that once I got this far, to do the walk of the island. Over two years later here I am.

I crossed over to Waiheke on the ferry on Tuesday 14th January. Jan met me and brought me to his home in Ostend where I met his wife Jackie and daughter Mika. After a cuppa Jackie took us back to Matiatia (where the ferry comes in) and Jan and I walked 15km back to his home. The coastal route took us mostly along tracks but also along beaches and across rocky headlands. As we walked we talked about our lives over the past two years.

Jan on beautiful Waiheke Island

Me in same spot

On Wednesday I walked another 18km via tracks and roads to Rocky Bay. Then more tracks towards Awaawaroa Bay. At one point I took a wrong turn and ended up trying to bush crash through gorse and bush lawyer before turning back and finding the right track. There were some very steep sections. I stopped at a cafe and bought a cuppa and while there dropped my water bottle. The bottom cracked and leaked water, so I had to carry it upside down for the rest of the day. Whenever I took a drink, water would dribble out of the bottom. Later I stopped to ask two ladies, working in a vineyard garden, if I could refill my bottle from the garden tap. It was a hot day and they asked if I'd walked down the hill. I told them I was about to go up it. "Your bloody mad" was the response. I then found out why, the hill was very steep indeed.

On Thursday morning Jan ran me to the other side of Onetangi and I hitched to my start point. My 24km for the day consisted of mainly quiet roads. A side road leads off to Stoney Batter where there are large tunnels from a WW2 gun emplacement.  I got a ride with the local mailman the 2km to the end of the road then walked the final km.  I was the first customer of the day and when the custodian went to unlock the gate into the tunnels she found she did not have the key. There then ensued a Dad's Army scenario of me assisting her to find an angle grinder, then a power cord and working out how to operate the generator. Once we got the generator going, the grinder needed to be assembled. Finally when we had everything together and operating she cut the lock off. Once inside the tunnels they were very impressive. Quite wide with long stairways and totalling over 1km in length. Later more road walking and then 2km along a nice bush walk brought me to Onetangi Beach. Finally 4km of road walking brought me to Jan & Jackies.

While here I am sleeping in a 2 bedroom cottage in front of their house which they recently had moved onto the property and are doing up.  Meals are taken with them and Ive told them I might not want to leave!

Friday was a day off from walking and I updated this blog, did some shopping and blobbed. On Saturday Jan and I took part in the 25km Wharf 2 Wharf run and race. Jackie dropped us off at Matiatia and we caught the ferry to Orapiu, put on specially for the race.  Jan ran it in 2hrs 22mins while I took a more leisurely 3hr 59mins to walk it. Near the end I walked past Peter Leitch's (The Mad Butcher) home and as I did so he came around the corner, shook my hand and said "good on you mate, your going well, your nearly there".  After the race Jackie picked us up and Jan and I had Fish N Chips.

This morning, Sunday, Jan accompanied me from Onetangi to Oneroa along roads, walkways and beaches (including one nudist beach). He gave me a commentary on the various areas and where he has been involved with establishing the walkways and the graphics his company, Snapper Graphics, has produced for them. At Oneroa we had a cuppa and Jan went home and I was joined by Gary, Chris and their son Connor as well as Buster the dog. Gary is the Auckland City, Parks and Recreation Officer for Waiheke and Great Barrier Islands. As we walked to Matiatia he told me of the history of the areas we passed and of the problems encountered in establishing and maintaining the various walkways. He is very passionate about his job and quizzed me about my experiences and thoughts while walking the island. Once we arrived at Matiatia there was a frantic search for Buster the dog, who had gone missing. After much calling and whistling he was finally spotted racing down the beach towards us half a km away. Gary then drove me home.

Todays walk completed my circular walk of the island. I have enjoyed stunning views, lovely walks, steep hills and great hospitality over the past week. The around Waiheke walk is not yet signposted or advertised as such but I can recommend it to anyone looking for a scenic, if at times somewhat challenging, walk close to Auckland.