Jas's Front Yard to Pakiri Beach Holiday Park
Jasmine's son Mees goes to Pakiri School - a tiny old-fashioned country school with nine pupils.
“They'd love to have you call in to talk to than all about your adventures,” said Jas as we left.
We fully planned to do so too.
A kilometre from the house Te Araroa ducks off the road and into some pretty rough looking regenerating bush - the Mt Tamahanga Summit bushwalk - aka Te Hikoi o te Kiri. The start of the track was new and not bedded in properly. Clay. Roots. Slow going.
Our first thought about it was that it would be awful in the rain and four hours later it was...awful and raining. As we came up the last horrendous clay scramble - a steep straight climb up a narrow path cut between gorse and a barbed wire fence - it started hosing down.
It had been a really hot dry summer, so I'm not going to complain too loudly - but we were soon looking like a couple of drowned rats.
The forest trail ended and Pakiri lay beneath us. The little town is an idyllic rural cliche from above with it's old church, school and little cluster of houses. It was an unpleasantly steep and slippery walk down the hill but the scenery and moody atmosphere made up for the difficulties.
Did I say we were feeling like a couple of drowned rats earlier on? By the time we got to Pakiri School we were also really cold.
Sorry Mees...we didn’t have it in us to come and say hello. Next time perhaps.
We had been “advised” by someone in-the-know that freedom camping along Pakiri Beach is kind of alright (but not really) if you're respectful and subtle, but the thought of a cabin to dry off in on a Friday night was too good to refuse. We negotiated a 70 dollar room, some soap, two real towels and got to it.
Again, because we're proud tight-arses we handwashed our little pile of clothes. Because we're old and fussy about dank smelling gear we splashed out on the camp's industrial dryers. 4 bucks got our clothes, “dry” bags and my previously stinking pack crispy dry.
The evening was spent watching a large church group of young, pakeha families cook up a HUUUUGE BBQ. On previous hikes we would've hung around hoping to pick up any loose scraps. Long distance hiking and the hunger it brings on means that we often become shameless hut rats, but this Northland hike seemed to be shaping up differently. We hadn't been travelling long enough to get a real hunger on and we're expecting shops on most of our hiking days.
This meant that we managed not to embarrass ourselves by sitting around in public salivating.
While we pretended not to watch, the men drank most of the booze while their large posse of small blond children happily mucked about. As the rain came and went we alternated our time worrying about the morning river crossing and enjoying the carefree kids doing their thing.
As we collapsed in our room the campers retreated to their cabins and tents. It was too wet for the hoped-for Friday night beach party which suited us fine.