Another pre dawn start. The Okura river is one of the largest rivers we will cross without a bridge or boat ride on the Te Araroa trail. It is only able to be crossed at the very bottom of the low tide at 7.20am. Michelle, a Swiss hiker I met last night, decided to team up for today’s hike all the way to Auckland.
We were greeted by another clear morning. The coolness of the evening gave way to a warm morning. It was going to be a hot day.
The sun started to rise as we hit the start of the 500 meter wide estuary. If we got the tides wrong it would be a long swim or a long wait. This time, we got the tides right. 15 minutes before the bottom of the low tide I set off across the channel. The low tide meant there was a large sandbar for all but 100 meters of the estuary.
The water was reasonably warm when I started crossing. The sandy, muddy bottom removed any visibility. A deep hole could have been my next footstep and I wouldn’t have known. In the middle I hit the main river channel. It dropped from a consistent knee deep to belly button deep in a few steps. I lifted my pack and placed it above my head. Would it get deeper or was I at the deepest section.
About 10 meters after hitting the belly button deep section it rose quickly to knee deep, then ankle deep. 40 more meters and I was on the dry bank. Parts of this trail are truly hiking into the unknown. This crossing was the great unknown for me and I felt relief.
Michelle is significantly shorter than me and it was quite a bit deeper for her. I suspect only 20-30 minutes after low tide and she would be swimming.
Parkland and urban hiking greeted us for the rest of the day. A one hour stop at Subway for a hearty lunch was our only long stop for the day. Curious locals chatted with us on several occasions, all proud that the trail passed their house. We even had offers of a bed for the night from some kind locals but I had a bed booked and paid for in Auckland. Otherwise I’d probably have taken it. 10am photo below.
It was 3.15pm when we crossed the harbor on the $7 ferry from Devonport to Auckland city centre. I even made it to the post office before it closed at 4pm. Hiking 33 kilometers before 4pm. Not a bad effort.
Michelle and I went our separate ways, I’ll be taking a rest day in Auckland while she continues hiking tomorrow. It will be my first rest day since Kerikeri 350km earlier.