The sun has not long risen when I found myself chest deep in a river estuary. My pack was balancing on my head. When the water reached my armpits I considered the need to swim across. This was the Horahora river. A tidal inlet that hikers must wade across. Low tide is the best time but my judgement on low tide was a couple of hours off. I relied on others to tell me the tide time rather than making my own enquiries. 3.30am would have been much better than 7.30am to cross this river. Live and learn.
I think it was close to high tide as I crossed the river. On the other side my old hiking buddy Jazzus was waiting. We negotiated the ankle deep mud in the mangroves till we reached yet another road walk. Another river crossing was coming up.
Crossing the Horahora river is part of the official Te Araroa trail. It recently replaced an 18km roadwalk. But I must take issue with this section of trail. Firstly, the trail passes through Maori land and hikers need to pay $5 for the right to hike through. Secondly, this was negotiated by a third party outside the Te Araroa Trust with commercial interests involved with the trail. And finally the Te Araroa Trust states this is a free trail.
In my humble opinion the land access needs to be negotiated between the Te Araroa Trust and the Local Maori groups on behalf of all hikers as they have done on every other section of trail. I don’t want to be the person who complains, specially without providing a solution, we all hate people like that right? Simple solution, TA Trust, please negotiate on behalf of all hikers.
I believe there should be land use agreements put in place. Too many countries have not respected the rights of the traditional land owners. New Zealand is different, there is a lot of respect for their land use rights. So let’s do what’s right.
What do you think, am I on the right track. The Te Araroa Trust should negotiate the land use agreements not us hikers or businesses? Or have I been spoilt by hiking too many world class trails around the world?
10am photo above.
Back to hiking. Rather than face another deep swim at the next river crossing we opted to roadwalk for 5km extra to get back on trail. The 5km roadwalk turned into about 20km as one road blended into another and another. There was a lot of roadwalk today.
With more than 25km of hiking competed before lunch Jazzus and I continued on an 8km beach walk before we went our separate ways. Jazzus wanted to climb to the summit of a nearby mountain. I wanted to test my ability to hitch on a boat across the Whangarei Heads. Large container ships move in and out of this deep water inlet. I wandered if hitching on a boat would be better than the $100 boat taxi recommended by the business that negotiated the previous land use agreement.
In order to get there with some daylight left I looked at the maps and planned a shortcut on some small backroads. The backroads got smaller and smaller until I found myself surrounded by dairy cows on route to be milked. I suspect it was a private road within someone’s farm. Not a public road, although it was not marked as private. There was nobody around to ask permission so I detoured away from the cows, through some empty paddocks and onto the main road. I made a poor route choice.
At 4.30pm I found myself sitting at the jetty looking at the wide estuary. A dude called Brad was returning from work at the nearby oil refinery. His small zodiac inflatable looked big enough to take me across. A large cargo ship was coming into the harbor, it would load timber which would be shipped to Indonesia. We made it across just in time.
I gave Brad $10 for the 15 minute trip. As I had not expected such a ride with only 15 minutes of waiting I was faced with another problem. I had no water and 10km of beach hiking to the next campsite.
At 7pm I arrived at camp and can you believe it, the girl working there used to live in my small hometown of Jabiru, Northern Territory. When she was young I would visit her school as a Police officer to teach safety programs to the kids. Before I started this adventurous hiking lifestyle I was a Police Officer in the Northern Territory of Australia, the outback.
What are the chances, a small town of only 1000 people and we are in the same place in New Zealand. So ended what I hope will be my biggest day on trail. Hiking 50 plus kilometers in a day is just too much for me.