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TA Day 13, Helena Bay to Whananaki – 25 km

The walk out of Helena Bay is straight up.
The walk out of Helena Bay is straight up.

Walking straight uphill this early morning onto a flower-covered hillside above the ocean. I can hear the waves crashing below. My pants are already soaked because the deep grass is drenched from last night’s torrential rain.

Just as I left the beach last evening and wandered back to the alicoop, a woman about my age wandered by, smiled and said hello. I followed her and asked if she might sell me a beer. She looked dumbfounded, “You need one?”

Yes, in fact I do after all those hot kilometers.

Turns out she doesn’t like beer at all. And and would much rather I share sparkling wine.

Monterrey Pines were imported to New Zealand and adapt well to the rain and fog.
Monterrey Pines were imported to New Zealand and adapt well to the rain and fog.

The next thing I know, I am included with husband, dad and cousin for cocktail hour. Tracy is a midwife, Ben, a carpenter. We natter for hours, and I learn much better Maori pronunciation – like wh is a ‘f’ sound, and that their home on the beach is called a bach, pronounced  “batch.”

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TA Day 12, Waikare to Helena Bay – 28 km

I get an early start. It’s overcast just as I like it. Someone else is up with a weed wacker. I wonder if he’s the same guy with the music. Soon I’ll use the river as a trail.

A big bull leaves loud patties in a screen of trees. I’m already a bit lost. Not exactly, I have GPS but nothing is marked and it’s a weedy, wet, barbed wire nightmare. Is it too much to put up a few signs?

This area is Maori and off the grid. Cars, garbage, rusting metal implements lay about. Poverty? Sure, but it’s a community too. I was told I’d meet trail angels. I’d like that.

Junked cars along the Te Araroa.
Junked cars along the Te Araroa.
The Papakauti stream is the official trail through the Russell Forest.
The Papakauti stream is the official trail through the Russell Forest.
A caravan as a guest room is typical in New Zealand.
A caravan as a guest room is typical in New Zealand.

Finally signs appear to tell me I’ve entered the Russell Forest.