North Mangawai Heads
Earlier on in the trip Gordon and I stayed at Aurora Lodge in Waipu which is run by Audrey and Rod. After talking with Rod about future details of the hike, Rod was keen to join me for the walk to Waipu Cove when I was next in the area. Well, this day came round quickly and suddenly we were meeting in town at 9am. We enjoyed the walk through the Waipu township and beyond. Not long after, we stopped at a timber mill where Kay offered us a complimentary coffee and hot chocolate and Nick brought out the Tim Tams! Thanks so much!
Then it was along the winding road towards the estuary. It was boots off time before crossing the river and I appreciated Rod being there to carry my poles and boots whilst I took video of us in the thigh deep water. My feet enjoyed being out of my boots and in the cool water. Another sunny day and it was super bright on the beach. I really enjoyed having Rod’s company for this section and we finished off at Waipu Cove where there was the most amazing wall mural on the toilet block. Someone had obviously gone to a lot of effort to paint such a mural. Love a good mural!
After saying goodbye to Rod I had a short break in the shade before heading further south to the cliffs north of Mangawai. Along the way there I went by some very scenic coastline. Rod actually suggested I walk this way instead of Te Araroa’s route over the Brynderwyn Range. I was grateful for his recommendation. Just off the footpath I caught a glimpse of a Passionfruit Flower. Their geometric detail always fascinates me. If only it was passionfruit season. I could have done with a bit of fresh fruit at camp and I wouldn’t have thought twice about shoving a few in my pack for the road. They’ll soon be openly available for the taking.
I wondered where I’d camp for the night. I didn’t want to walk all the way to Mangawai Heads. I wanted to blend back into the trail by doing a few shorter days. I really wanted to camp near the cliffs. Farmer Robert offered me water from the shearing shed along the way which I really needed. I was running a bit low on water and had been thinking of where I might next get to fill up. Good timing!
Over the next few hills I closed in on the cliffs and as the sun was getting lower I came across a valley of Kauri trees. The low sun brought out all the green colours and this place just looked amazing. I couldn’t believe I was about to walk through it. The tall grass had been newly cut and I enjoyed the thought of someone having just done the job with just me in mind. I slowed down to appreciate the Kauri Valley and spent some time taking photos. I didn’t realise at the time but an incredible camp site lay only meters away and it overlooked vast amounts of ocean.
As I got to the top of the cliffs I just saw this view and was super excited to see some level ground on golf course quality grass! At the time I was thinking “how lucky I am to experience such an incredible place” and “why aren’t there more people here enjoying this moment”. I’ve often had those thoughts while on my traverse and when I find myself thinking such things it makes me realise how fortunate I am to be here on this trail.
I had dinner whilst the sun went down and enjoyed the view until it was quite dark. I was told that this area along the cliffs is usually very windy but that night was my lucky night. It was hard to sleep after such a great day’s hike – only to end up in the world’s top camp spot and have it all to myself.