TA Day 10, Kerikeri to Paihia – 24 km

Another lovely night’s rest and now Vern drives me on the windy rollercoaster of a road back to Stone House to begin the next section, this time alone. The morning is cool and quiet and I’m on my way to Paihia, tuis fluting in the trees, a few roosters announcing a new day.

I already lost my trail notes. Not to worry, since they’re on my phone, but damn if they didn’t drop without my noticing. At least here it’s a sidewalk until the forest and my breakfast spot. My eye is much better. I’m covered head to toe, gloves, buff, long sleeves and pants, hat, sunglasses. The flowers are ridiculously fragrant.

A Māori pou whenua or "land post" that marks territory and tells a story, much like totem poles.
A Māori pou whenua or “land post” that marks territory and tells a story, much like totem poles.
Another roadside attraction.
Another roadside attraction.
A glimpse of the bay through long puriri arms.
A glimpse of the bay through long puriri arms.

I enter the Waitangi forest. In New Zealand, the g’s is soft, so it sounds like I am describing the reason I love a tasty morsel. Why, tangy! It’s just me here on this cool fern-lined track. The pines are American imports.

It’s time for brunch. A bit of salami, a smokey harissa tuna packet and couscous. This is a tree farm and I can hear machinery chopping away in the distance. Mountain bike trails snake through and the birds don’t seem to mind the monoculture.

Richard say. “My wife is always smiling when she’s moving her body.” Walking has served me well all my life. When I’m blue or obsessing, he usually sends me out the door. A funny store is about the last time I spent any quality time with my dad. We met in Manhattan. He was tired, so I took in a play in Soho while he napped. He made me promise not to walk back to midtown, but how could I not those fifty or so blocks on a late winter’s night. It was glorious.

"Easy Tramping Track" through the Waitangi Forest.
“Easy Tramping Track” through the Waitangi Forest.
Lunch on a cushion of needles.
Lunch on a cushion of needles.
"The only good possum is a dead possum" is the theme of this mountain bike trail.
“The only good possum is a dead possum” is the theme of this mountain bike trail.

Everywhere has felt too small for my feet. Like my dad, Richard also wanted me to walk here in stages, mainly to preserve my career. But I just had to see what it feels like to do it all in one go. And now I am alone with no trail notes, Guthook’s map on the phone, and my wits.

So far, so good.

My food is delicious and I let out a hearty belch. No one around to laugh.

You have to create a balance when long distance thru-hiking – one of ‘getting there’ and one of enjoying ‘getting there.’ I find it relaxing to have not met a soul in this forest as I march and belch.

It’s noon so I find another spot to place my mat and my pack as a backrest. I’m still tired today. This is a long way through the forest, but soon I’ll be on the coast. I think about life back home and wonder what Americans will do today since it’s election day. Will they vote for sanity or support divisiveness. I’m amazed how much people here follow what’s happening, probably feeling sorry for us.

Superb signage to take me around the logging section.
Superb signage to take me around the logging section.
On Mount Bledsoe in my superb new top.
On Mount Bledisloe in my superb new top.
Kerikeri sculptor Chris Booth assembled this cairn from local volcanic rock and it marks the opening of the very first Te Araroa track.
Kerikeri sculptor Chris Booth assembled this cairn from local volcanic rock and it marks the opening of the very first Te Araroa track.

I turn up Tu Puke road dodging massive dust-producing logging rigs to see the sculpture memorializing the start of this track. I walk right past the ‘artistic’ lump thinking it’s a dead palm. Not exactly beautiful, but very important.

It’s up only a short spur to Mount Bledisloe and the view opens toward today’s destination. Water turquoise against mountains and islands, I see the bridge I’ll soon cross. It’s very hot.

The forest opens onto a road and golf course, then treaty grounds – tempting to visit, but an expensive half-day affair. I cross the bridge and a splendid cool breeze greets me. The water is less colorful when next to it. Three Maori girls share raw cockles with me.

Along the beach signs teach me about the birds in this seabird capital of the world. Terns, herons, even gulls are protected, the latter clever buggers stamping the ground to imitate rain and luring worms to waiting beaks.

Most people I met on the Waitangi Bridge were shocked I planned to walk the entire country.
Most people I met on the Waitangi Bridge were shocked I planned to walk the entire country.
Locals eating cockles right out of the shell.
Locals eating cockles right out of the shell.
Camping at the Pickled Parrot in Pahia.
Camping at the Pickled Parrot in Pahia.

Paihia is a total tourist town with coaches crowding the streets, American accents, an obnoxious cross signal, and every food imaginable.

The alicoop is set up at the Pickled Parrot, I’ve had a shower and now a walk back to town with Ondi for a craft beer by the sea. This truly is a backpackers’ hostel. Big kitchen, lawn for tents, a few rooms, awesomely comfy couches and a huge open area. This is the kind of place to hang – ah, and Caroline from the Netherlands has offered me a glass of Pinot Grigio before beer. Life is good.

A creative arch in Pahia.
A creative arch in Pahia.
Absolute luxury at the Pickled Parrot hostel.
Absolute luxury at the Pickled Parrot hostel.
Ondi and I have a pint on the wharf. This does not feel like a thru-hike.
Ondi and I have a pint on the wharf. This does not feel like a thru-hike.

Published by alison young

Alison Young is the Blissful Hiker, a voice artist and sometime saunterer. 📣🐥👣🎒

Reader Comments

  1. You are inspiring! Thank you for writing so beautifully. I appreciate your observations and insights. By the way, Richard may come to the concert at our house on the 16th.

  2. “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”. That comes from Tennyson…or was it you? I look forward to your daily posts (Or do you have a ghost writer traveling with you?) which are eloquent. I am some days jealous but many days happy not to be on the walk.
    Continued happy days and good times.

  3. “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”.
    Tennyson, I think, or was it you? I am faithfully following your blog, periodically envying you or being happy to be at home. You write so well. I’ve wondered if a ghost writer and professional photographer might be with you. Keep us informed. Enjoy. Walk on.

  4. It’s not just enough to read & ogle the photos; I have begun to follow your daily treks on the Te Araroa map. I will probably never hike this trail (may never make it to NZ either), but this is giving me a great connection to both. Thanks for every kilometer!

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