How nice would it have been to relax here at Teal Bay for another day? I was truly grateful for the hospitality I received and was reluctant to go but it was a long day ahead before I would reach Whananaki Bridge. So it was time to move on.
The road wound its way up and there were some beautiful country views to be seen. The rain was heading for me so I pressed on imagining that I could out-walk it. It caught up to me but was not heavy enough for me to reach for my rain jacket. I headed into another forest which was not marked well enough at a crucial turn-off so
I continued to follow more orange markers for another 3km in the wrong direction and then my senses told me I was going the wrong way and the GPS confirmed it. So I backtracked the slippery muddy pathway to where I thought the turn-off should be but no turn-off was visible.
I retraced my footsteps back and forth several times and then saw the two orange markers that were written about in the tips section of the trail notes. I completely missed them on my way south and was quite annoyed that a bigger sign was not placed there. I missed the orange markers again when I walked past a second time because they had been nailed to the opposing side of the tree. I agreed with the tip on the trail notes – if you blink you will miss the turn-off and that is exactly what happened. I tend to look at my feet more when it is muddy and slippery and I often miss markers this way.
So, two and a quarter hours later and I was back on track. Now I was really short of time. Will I make the bridge by nightfall? I lost the track again a few hours later and found myself walking down a farm paddock and onto a road. A farmer offered me a lift to Whananaki Bridge and I thanked him but said I’d walk. I then walked via the estuary track to the bridge and got there just before sunset. My legs were tired and I was parched. I rested on the bridge for a while thinking of all the cold drinks I would order should a barman wander past. No such luck.
Later, I did pass another guy but he wasn’t the barman I was hoping for. He did have some helpful advice and told me of a campground nearby which is where I stayed the night. It was on the north side of the estuary (Top 10 Holiday Park). Jackie gave me a discount for the cabin since I was walking the Te Araroa Trail. After cooking dinner I flopped into bed and didn’t stir until sunrise.