The weather likes to change our plans. I do not really mean, that it is it’s favorite thing to do (hmmm…), but it happens. Well, such is the nature of the weather. One tries to predict its behavior, but it does not always work. At some point, the only thing we can do is to adjust to its current humors and either carry on or hide away and wait until it calms down. Last time we chose the latter.
The following day after the night on the couches in Punaruku, we took all the Snickers bars that were available in the cupboard, left the cash in the freezer (don’t ask why) and headed off towards Helena Bay. First stage that was waiting for us was on a winding road. The road itself was quite boring, however the views were stunning.
We came to the beach, where we stopped for a break and to take some photos.
Just right next to the beach there was a beautiful large tree with a very interesting bark form.
After the village we had to leave the road to join the gorgeous Helena Ridge Track.
The path was winding on the hill around the valley. The atmosphere was even better thanks to the crickets and as always countless birds chirping. All this created a fantastic aura for the view on this green valley, which we celebrated with a great delight.
We were aiming for the village (or rather a small set of houses, or even just a farm) called Morepork. Yes, while reading the name you may think of some pork, maybe even more, but it is also a name of species of a small owl, that lives mainly in New Zealand and Tasmania. In Morepork there was supposed to be a campsite prepared by a local farmer.
On the way we had to break through a bunch of bulls again (the trail leads through many pastures). Insofar as last Michał managed to convince the bulls to our peaceful intentions, but this time his negotiation skills were not sufficient. One bull was stubborn and there was no other way than to take the path around… the rest was staring stupidly from above at the whole incident slowly chewing grass like an audience eats popcorn at the cinema.
Well, we had to give up and go around the resistant bull. He was still staring at us while we carried on our hike along the dirt way (read it as a mix of swamp, grass and cow dung). After some time we climbed up a hill and we started looking for a place to camp. From the pastures we went down on a slope covered with bush, we walked through a narrow path, and when we started getting impatient, we saw the exit from the bush and a small sign saying:
“Trail Walkers May Camp, Please Leave Area Tidy, Drinking Water In Tank”
Awesome, this was just what we were looking for. Location is correct, black water tank is also here – this must be the place. We sat on the grass and started hearing some odd sounds coming from the surrounding bush. Some of them we could recognise as birds but the rest was so strange that we ran out of ideas what they might be…
The next morning went moved on. The goal of the day was the camping in Woolleys Bay. It started with a steep climb along the Morepork Track. After we left the pastures, in the high grass path along the creek, followed by the Whananaki River inlet, we came to the village with the same name.
We stopped in a local dairy (Kiwi word for a small grocery store) for some ice cream and food resupply for the coming days. We returned to the trail, which led us to the other side of the estuary along a narrow footbridge which apparently is the longest one on the North Island.
We carried on following the Whananaki Walkway, which led us along the pastures and forests. Finally we came to the road and at last to the campsite. This was almost just right over the ocean. The only thing that separated us from the water was some kind of a dike or a dune, thanks to which the noise of the waves did not bother us that much. The field was large enough and very flat, but the area designated for camping was limited to small corner (the signs clearly defined the space and in the guide we read that about 8 am a guy comes to give you a 200$ fine if your car or a tent sticks a few centimeters outside the designated area). There was already one tent and two campervans. We squeezed in somehow and then another two cars arrived… well, somehow we managed to share this little piece of land.
While we were hiking, we were followed by a certain cloud. The one that clearly did not have best intentions. We knew that sooner or later we will have to meet: us two versus the cloud. Well, of course, just as we pitched our tents and were ready to have some long awaited dinner, the cloud decided to treat us with rain. We immediately rolled up the food from the picnic table and ran away to our tents. Luckily we were clever (ok, we simply had luck) and instead of the meals that required cooking we bought tortillas, 1kg block of cheese and some bacon. We won the duel with the cloud and we “cooked” the dinner inside the tents. Each of us had his share of cheese and a package of bacon to put on tortillas and no rain could ruin the pleasure of eating the dinner! This was the first time since we started that due to the rain we had to eat in tents. Somehow we always managed to cook it, either underneath the shelter or in a building, or it just was not raining. Did I say that we had luck with the tortillas?
Just as we were done with eating, the rain was gone and I could go to the beach to put my legs in the water. What is interesting is that in many locations near the beaches (entrances, car parks, campsites) there are instructions advising what to do in case of tsunami. If you notice some strange behavior of the water (sudden level difference) or you feel a steady, about a minute-long earthquake – get off the beach immediately as far and as high as possible. The wave may reach the land within minutes. Do not wait for the official warnings, just take your legs and run away to a nearby hill!
Luckily we experienced no earthquakes so far, we are just trying to deal with the weather. In the next post we will describe how we were crossing the rivers. We are also preparing some additional posts, not necessarily about the trail itself, so follow us and stay tuned!