The 120k section from Ahipara to Kerikeri makes the connection from coast to coast, traversing through four large forests.
The first forest, Herekino, was like one of those mud, sweat and tears races - albeit with gorgeous palms and strangulation vines. I can’t quite articulate the fun of trying to climb up steep muddy slopes whilst being simultaneously dragged backwards by a vine. Such Fun.
Having talked with other TA trampers, it seems that this section is famous for causing trampers to lose the will to live. I camped at the only ‘flat’ area I could find in a field and crashed out after a nutritional meal of processed cheese slices. I had no spare water at this stage.
The lack of water in these forest sections was dire. I managed luckily to go off track to find a stream on the way to Tangaho wild camp and this section was yet again a mixture of a tough mud race and Survivor combined. Mangamuka dairy was open especially late for trampers: The owner is super friendly and let’s you camp next to her shop. Water, coke, lollies and a 1 scoop ice cream that was massive. (I am now possibly pre diabetic as a result!)
Omaha forest that turns into Puketi was again an obsession with finding water- it is very humid in the forests. I took a few wrong turns when trying to see a red marker on a distant tree and it’s actually pretty scary when you all around is apparently impenetrable forest. It was also very rainy forest, with the river flooded as a result. Luckily I met a couple who had done all the trail last year apart from this section (as it is often flooded).
By now I was feeling what I presume passes for normal as a TA walker - sore back, sore knees and sore eyes from desperately searching for invisible TA markers!
This whole section can be best summarized as torrential rain, wind, misery, swollen flooded river, alternate flood route, desolate muddy campground, soggy river bank walk, exhausted Rache.
Arrival at Kerikeri was therefore very welcome - a chance to rest, recuperate… and dry out! The Flashpackers ‘Hone Heke’ here is fantastic... Not only do they provide a lovely place, but heaps of oranges too!
Caught up with 3 other TA walkers Jo, Scott and Lois too. They educated me that a rest day is called a ‘zero’ day in the TA community (as in zero progress). Fortunately it doesn’t equate with abstinence however…rehydration via beer is included. Feeling better!
Another expensively shot video below of this section....