Day 10 - Mangawhai Heads to Waipu Cove
It's amazing what a few hours of horizontal rest can do for wary bodies. We'd gone to bed cripples and had woken up the next morning only half crippled.
As we settle in to the hike we've started to develop our daily rhythm.
The initial plan was to walk an average of 20ks a day over a six week period in the hope of covering the full 600ks from the train station in Auckland to Cape Reinga. This would give us 2 days off a week.
As we've sauntered on we've changed this slightly - walking smaller distances every day seems to be getting the job done and it's a lot more relaxed. We haven't had the mountains that we'd encountered on Spine of the Fish, so the journey was moving into a pretty sweet groove.
According to the trail route and what passed for Whiona's plans this newfound relaxedness was about to come to a hot, sticky end in the form of the hilly Cullen Brynderwyn Walkway.
The upper part of the walkway, after Te Araroa leaves it, has been closed to Kauri Dieback. The Cullen part is still open to hikers...which is a bit of a bugger really.
I hate to admit this - but we're slightly sick of forest.
“What?!?” I hear you ask in bewilderment.
“Te Araroa is all about ‘The Nature’. Te Araroa is all about tree hugging. The birds. 100% New Zealand Pure.”
We like our forests cool. Ruahine Beech forest with it's streams and rivers in autumn is a nice place to be.
Choppy sub-tropical Northland remnant forest at the end of a dry hot, but still humid, summer is an unpleasant thing. OK...it's actually hell when you're a bit unfit and lugging packs as well as very talkative blisters.
We're enjoying walking beaches, farm tracks and gravel backcountry roads. We like the occasional bush walk. But we got a bit fed up with the Dome Forest and it's endless ups and downs.
And to be honest, we're also a bit over walking through areas that are vulnerable to Kauri Dieback.
We're very skeptical of efforts to remediate a problem that we're not sure anyone really understands. We're also very skeptical of hikers’ ability to do the right thing and be clean.
Ban us! Go on! I dare you!
With all this in mind - and remember we're very likely to change our thinking without much provocation because that's how we rock - we decided to bypass the Cullen Brynderwyn Walkway which also features 7kms of 4wd and road walking anyway.
Yep. We were going to wuss out.
After saying goodbye to Astrid we made our way around Mangawhai Heads to the Bream Tail Mangawhai Walkway. This is part of Te Araroa but is also a really popular beach and cliff-top walk for locals and regular tourists. The beach is beautiful and the views are too.
Progressive councils around the country are really starting to clue onto the idea that people like to walk. A good track is just as beneficial as an art gallery, stadium or a museum. Judging by the number of walkers out that morning, a good track is also probably much more popular.
Te Araroa leaves the popular track at the top of the cliffs, then makes its way through a working beef farm. We cautiously ate lunch in a large field of cows, then walked past more cows with their about-to-be weaned calves.
It was noisy, and for us city folk, a little bit exciting. OK...a little bit scary.
We left Te Araroa for a short road walk to Langs Beech, a swim and a couple of really nice Real Fruit Ice Creams from a very cruisy foodtruck operator Mr Zippy.
There is a certain irony in this name as Mr Zippy is actually Mr Zen. As a patient line of customers sat in the shade a very chilled dude made coffees and ice creams and
took more orders.
He took my order then engaged me in conversation that I'm sure must have slowed him down even more.
The worrier in me couldn't cope, so I removed myself to let him get on with the job - but looking back, I reckon Mr Zen had it right.
He was the only guy making really good ice creams in a beautiful spot. Why spoil it by getting stressed out for tourists.
Mini Review: Mr Zippy Real Fruit Ice Creams - 5 stars
Comment: Try the Lemon one!
As I left Whiona laughed.
“Do you realise you were standing in front of a bunch of people wearing a kilt with your undies strung out and drying on the back of your pack? They must've been wondering if you were riding Commando.”
“Were there any skidmarks?” was the only reply I could muster.
“No,” was the reassuring answer.
As we slurped our delicious ice creams we hit the road over to Waipu Cove. We'd done it...we hadn't quite committed the ultimate Te Araroa sin of hitching, but we'd gone off piste to walk on a road instead of a beautiful forest walk - which is pretty bad.
As we reached the top of our first rise, a man stopped us and asked, “Do you know about the new walkway that runs between Langs Beach and Waipu Cove?”
“What? A walkway that goes all the way?”
“Yep. You can go back down to the beach or just duck into the Bush up there.”
He pointed to a sign and we were soon ducking.
Prediction: The new Waipu Cove to Langs Beach Coastal Walkway will soon become a highlight of Te Araroa and the Cullen Brynderwyn Walkway will soon get to rest in peace.
I'm not going to describe what we found. I'm going to point you in the direction of the picture gallery at the bottom of this page instead. Words cannot do the place justice.
Mini Review: Waipu Cove to Langs Beach Coastal Walkway - 5 stars.
Click to enlarge (best on desktops)
Comment - Just do it. If you're walking Te Araroa don't use your walking poles on this unofficial section...yes we did, but looking back we wouldn't now. This walkway is a community driven effort that goes over public land. It probably has no funding for maintenance, is on fragile land and is reliant on the generosity of landowners. Please don't go poking holes in it. You might ruin it for the rest of us.
Our almost perfect day ended at the ginormous Waipu Cove Campground. TA Hikers get a 25% discount on a very generous but barren square of sandy ground. There's a good store nearby and a REALLY good pizza joint that serves cider, wine and beer.
We arrived feeling triumphant in our decision to chill around the beaches rather than stress over the hill track so ordered two litres of chilled cider, a plate of chips and a couple of very generous and tasty pizzas.