November 12th
Kerkeri(137.5)-Waitangi Forest(142.6)
Mileage: 4.1mi/6.6km
Campsite Elevation: 356ft/109m

Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook Hikes Te Araroa App.

I was up til 1:30am last night getting caught up on things while I had wifi. Lots had piled up since I am trying not to use my phone’s data much along the trail. Still, my body was wide awake at 5:30am this morning. I tried to go back to sleep and then wrote the rest of yesterday’s blog and headed to the lounge at 6:30am while the others were still asleep. I was able to get caught up on the most pertinent stuff and went back to the room to pack up around 10am. 

This coming section has a 10km ferry ride over an upcoming inlet that leaves once a day. The way it is timed, we either needed to push a bigger day today, zero and do a bigger day tomorrow, or split it into two shorter days. We decided to split it into two shorter days to be able to relax most of today and to avoid paying for another overnight. Plus, it would give Felix time to catch up!

It was a good break to relax until 2pm. By the time I got everything done, I had time to watch last week’s Grey’s Anatomy with Becky who had also watched since the beginning. Becky missed last season, so yesterday, we had fun while we hiked with me describing the whole season to get her caught up to speed. It was an entertaining episode, and I was proud that I was detailed enough yesterday that Becky was totally in the loop on the episode today. Will was happy to watch the season opener of his favorite college basketball team, the Kentucky Wildcats. Claudia decided to hike on today and we will see her down the trail. 

All of us getting in some tv time before we leave.

Becky and I headed out at 2pm and attempted to hitch the +2km back to trail to avoid walking back through town. I’d been in touch with Felix, who made it to town this morning, and found us as we were hitching. Felix is back, yay! All three of us headed out of town while Will finished watching his game. He had walked further before hitching to town yesterday, so he had less to walk today. We had some trouble getting a hitch and walked on through town. We spotted a traveling van pulling out of a parking spot and convinced the young Israeli driver, Paul (inside joke), to give us a quick ride. He was just out of the Israeli army and doing some traveling and backpacking. He totally understood and happily squished us in. As the smallest, I squeezed in the back on his mattress with the packs. Thank you Paul for saving us some concrete hilly walking today!

A hitch with Paul back to trail.

We headed out of town and went through a beautifully forested bit before passing the oldest stone house in New Zealand from 1920. It was quite touristy and plenty of people were out and about. Will caught up with us there, and we all hiked the rest of the afternoon together. 

Looking across at the stone house.

We didn’t need to go far since it’s two short days and we will be back in a town tomorrow. We had an hour or so of paved road walking and then turned on to the Waitangi Forest Track on a dirt road. It is great! Nice open road with tall spaced out trees and the ground covered in pine needles. Some of my favorite hiking and camping scenery. 

It’s nice to have these road walks and walk as a group next to one another rather than a line. It was great to have Felix back! He worked hard to catch up and sacrificed time off in town to come on out with us. Hopefully, for all our sake, he can get that shower and laundry in Paihia tomorrow, haha. Totally kidding! 

Felix is back, yay!

We found a great spot for all of us in the woods and set up camp at 5:15pm. It was a great relaxing day and I love being out here in my tent tonight as opposed to another night in town. I’m so at home here in my tent! I love camping on this bed of thick pine needles too. We all had dinner together and retreated for the night. 

There are many distant popping sounds like fireworks, and I’m wondering what it is….Just a half day of hiking tomorrow will set us up perfectly to catch the early morning ferry the following day. 

Some of my most favorite camping terrain.

I have to say that this trail is definitely not cheap. Especially on the North Island, we are going through towns and needing to pay for campgrounds, ferries, kayaks, and boat rides. It’s fun, but it requires some good discipline to not get sucked in by the town vortex. We missed ice cream by 12mins at the Stone House, not realizing how early it closed. That may be the motivator of what we’ll treat ourselves to in Paihia tomorrow. I also now have last week’s Survivor loaded to watch tonight and tomorrow night. I’m pretty tired tonight, and need to catch up on my sleep, so tomorrow may be Survivor night. Good times!

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