Day 11 - Waipu Cove to Uretiti Campground
Waipu Cove is a bit of a TA dark spot. It's about a kilometre off the actual trail but we reckon it's a must-do detour for hikers.
By dark spot I mean that it’s not part of the official trail and there are no hiker notes or maps for it other than general road maps and Topo50. This is why we didn't realise that there is a perfectly good beach walk that will take Nobo hikers nearly all the way from Waipu Cove to Waipu town OFF ROAD. It leaves the beach at the gorgeous Waipu Cemetery.
It gets even better for hikers because 200 metres north of the cemetery a brand new shared walkway and cycleway takes them safely all the way into Waipu town.
This is where we met Carey a local Te Araroa volunteer and active guy. He was riding his bike out to the beach for a swim and stopped to share the latest local trail news. We could have talked for ages but we all had things to do.
As we walked into town we reflected back on how much time we HADN'T spent walking roadside ditches since Puhoi. Our Northland hike was getting good thanks to the area’s many walkways and obviously the many people, committees and workers who’d made this happen. We are firm believers in the idea that if something’s not right, don’t whinge, just fix it. There’s not much whinging going on in this part of New Zealand - as far as active transport is concerned.
Upon arriving in town we made a beeline for the nearest bakery where I, in particular, disgraced myself.
I wasn't really that hungry, but I panicked with a pie, an apple-cream donut, a can of Sprite and a totally unnecessary deep fried curry roll. I wouldn’t say Whiona looked on with disapproval as I wiped lard from my beard...but I could sense some kind of distaste as she avoided watching me eat.
As we sat outside consuming our quarry, a woman gave us a couple of bunches of grapes.
At least our lunch ended healthily.
While I pecked at the grapes, Whiona fossicked in the opshop next door and bought an old-school woolen blanket. She then spent a frustrating time trying to send it home to Palmy from the Waipu Postshop without using a plastic bag.
After an intense time trying to konmari the shit out of the lovely red wool blanket with red satin lining, she quietly returned the first small, and now somewhat broken, cardboard box back to the shelf.
The next size up fitted with some persuasion, but in some kind of punishment for not using a plastic bag, the woman behind the counter would only use three small pieces of sellotape to secure it.
“Please put some more tape on it. The last box like this that arrived at home turned up broken and half open,” pleaded Whiona.
“They probably didn't fold it properly,” came the reply before the box was whisked off the counter to find its way back home.
While Whiona struggled with the postal “system” I waited on a tartan-painted bench thinking about Northland’s town with a Maori name and a Scottish brand. Waipu is a bit like the Dunedin of the north - if you close your eyes. It may not look anything like Dunedin but it is an old Victorian Scottish settlement. Whiona, a descendent of some of New Zealand’s first Scottish settlers in Otago, had expected some sort of triumphant arrival in Waipu...but I’m sad to say that the significance of her arrival was completely ignored. I’ve got more than a dollop of Scot’s blood coursing through my veins too, but I was similarly invisible to locals - although I tried my best to represent in my hiking kilt. Tragically there was no welcome parade for me either.
I'll remember to bring my bagpipes next time because no one seemed to care about the hairy old man who sat on a tartan painted park bench across the road from the Post Office wearing what most locals probably thought was a dress. A few bars of the Scottish Rose should wake the buggers out of their cultural slumber.
We ate apples before wandering out of town and down a fairly quiet road with no shared pathway and on to the beautiful Bream Bay.
A short way along our last two kilometres for the day we met Yvonne and Graham, two “locals” who'd spent their younger years travelling for work and fun. Children had meant a period of home-owning, but their children had recently left home...a home that was quickly sold for a luxurious camper van.
We entered the camping ground from the beach, wandered around looking for a good spot amongst the glamour campers, then went looking for the camp commandant. It’s quite a big campground but we eventually found his cabin amongst the sand dunes. We’ve found that it can be really cost-effective to tell people what we’re up to because there a often discounts for hikers. Uretiti Campground, a Department of Conservation administered facility, lets hikers stay for free.
The evening got even better when Yvonne and Graham invited us in to their palace on wheels for a meal - our disappointment with Waipu quickly faded as we basked in the warmth of their welcome.
As it went dark we returned to our own pretend version of living small - our tent - and turned in for the night. Sleep was hard to come by, but we couldn’t tell whether it was because of the lumpy ground or our excitement about the next destination...a couple of zero days at Wong-ga-ray.
NOTE: As well as apologising again for my tardiness in posting these, I apologise for the change of name - originally we called this blog Walk of the Spirits, but that kind of implied that we are on some sort of spiritual quest...this may be true...but it's not cool, so we've changed the name to Tail of the Fish which is much less cosmic and matches our previous blog Spine of the Fish. Yes...it may muck up any links you or I have posted, but that's why I'm sorry.
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