There were several hikers staying at Beachcombers Backpackers in Kaitaia, some were injured, some were taking rest days and some were getting ready to start the trail. I’ve met maybe 20 hikers so far and only two are from New Zealand.
Maybe this is not a popular hike for the locals, maybe it’s not well know or maybe they don’t like the trail. Considering it is a young trail there already many reports that it’s not living up to the promise of a world class long distance hiking trail. I’ll reserve my opinion until about 4 months from now, so far so good.
With part of the trail closed it was a road walk to get back onto the trail. While I prefer trail hiking I’m not going to skip the roadwalking and hitch hike. I want to reach the end of the trail and say I hiked all the way from the northern tip of New Zealand.
It was a real four seasons in one day kinda day. Rain, wind, sun, cloud, heat and cold took turns at trying to break me. The trail started with several kilometers of hiking on the almost non existent shoulder of highway 1, the busiest road in this part of the world. But things got better.
While hiking down the rural roads I discovered a side of New Zealand that few tourists get to see. Everyone greeted me with a wave or stopped to chat. Some of the conversations lasted nearly an hour. I learned about the New Zealand dairy industry and how it’s changed over the years. One guy told me about hobby farming and only keeping a small plot of land with a couple of beef cattle. Then there was the conversation about Freedom Camping in New Zealand. This still confuses me. Apparently freedom camping is allowed on all public lands in New Zealand but local councils have different laws throughout the country. Apparently there is legislation to standardise the law to remove any ambiguity. Maybe some local New Zealand readers of the blog can clarify ‘Freedom Camping’ a bit more in the comments section below.
I camped alone next to the side of a small road near a small but noisy stream. This is listed as the last reliable water for 16km. Although I arrived at around 4.30pm it didn’t make sense to continue. The predicted strong wind and heavy rain was forecast after 6pm. I settled into my tent and contemplated tomorrow. The trail is said to be one of the toughest and muddiest section on the whole north island. Add to that the predicted storm and I might be in for a fun day tomorrow.