After launching the dinghy and rowing to shore in Puriri Bay in Whangaruru, we met some friendly (like they all seem to be) New Zealanders, Chris and Jill who were camping on shore. They handed us a map and told us which way to go for a nice trek. They suggested the version that takes you by the coast and then back to "the camp." They did this tramp yesterday and would do the other half today. So we set off and didn't follow the instructions immediately and ended up climbing up a nice hill and down the backside to get to the trail. It would have been easier following the road! Then we found the orange markers and headed on our way. It was a great day for a walk and we trekked on. We ran into some more friendly folks who asked, "Do you know what you're in for?" Hmmmmm. We chatted with them a bit and they continued in the opposite direction (they did look hot and tired) and we moved onward. The views were wonderful and we walked through all types of landscape – fields, marshy grasses, low forest and rocky outcroppings. The trail was well maintained (more on that later!)
Then we saw them. The steps. Lots and lots of steps. The trail had steps placed on the steep parts with wooden slat fronts and filled with dirt. We climbed and climbed and when we thought we were done we'd walk on the trail for a bit to come upon even more steps. It was quite the workout. At one point the trail came to a crossroads and we kept going forward. We realized that we were now on the "other half" of the trail. And of course we had more steps! Then we started our descent. There were NO steps on this side of the trail and it was perhaps even more difficult than the steps as the trail. The trail had washed out a bit and was steep with scree to make the walking a bit slick and challenging. And we were getting tired. But we trekked on and made it back to the camp. Along the way we saw a favorite bird, the fantail, which is a little very curious critter who gets close. Michael also found some very strange "stick bugs" that looked just like twigs (but twigs that moved).
We stopped for our packed lunch and though we groaned and moaned about the ups and downs of the trail – we did enjoy it! Upon we return, Jill and Chris had already completed their trek and we told them we had done the whole trail. They invited us for a beer but we talked them into coming back to Astarte (Barbara's plot to not have to row back herself) for a beer. Jill also needed an egg for her fish fry-up...they had caught a good number of snapper. Chris gave Michael some good fishing advice. We enjoyed our time aboard with them and learned more about New Zealand.
The next morning, we headed off for the Bay of Islands (BOI). There was the possibility of a nasty bit of weather coming in over the weekend and through the early part of the week and we wanted to get nestled in someplace to wait it out. The predictions were for 25 -30 knots of wind with changing directions as the front would pass - starting from the northeast and working its way around to the southwest.
We had a motor sail trip as the wind was on the nose and there wasn't quite enough to keep the sails filled with the rolly seas. We went between Cape Brett and the big rock (that has the "hole in the wall" - a giant hole in the rock that boats takes tourists through). We came into Orokawa Bay, behind the Orokawa Peninsula, which is protected from most directions. We put out lots of anchor chain and settled in for the blow.
It has been windy all morning with a fair amount of rain. Not good varnishing weather so we will tackle other boat projects We continue to watch the barometer drop (it dropped more than 11 millibars in less than 12 hours) and watch the entertainment as boats come and go – though not many are on the move.
It will be a wet, windy few days.