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From Kerikeri to Auckland

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the local story – what happened

It was about 20 km eastwards from Kerikeri to reach the Pacific coast. After a relaxing stretch of woodland, you come to pastures that are directly on the sea, so almost with its own private beach for sheep and cows and a view of the Pacific Ocean.

Walking through the pastures is usually not an exciting affair – sheep run away and bulls and cows look curiously, but usually do not let themselves be deterred from grazing. Unless they have calves in the group, in which case they can get nervous and smell real danger even in an inexperienced hiker with a rucksack. This is what happens north of Pahia. Looking ahead, my route was right along the fence – after three mother cows had placed themselves broad-legged between their calves and me, it was advisable to open all the belts of the rucksack as a precaution. Unfortunately, walking slowly with a stare to the front was not the right solution. When the three ladies began to trot in my direction, haste was called for. The animals have no horns here in New Zealand, but 300-400 kg live weight is enough to do decent damage without their skewer tools. Rucksack over the fence heave and immediately after-climb was the motto. Probably the three ladies were just bluffing anyway, but the bluff worked for me in any case. While lifting the rucksack over the fence, my right index finger got caught between the rucksack and the fence in the excitement. The consequence was the next visit to the doctor in Pahia.

To be on the safe side, I stayed in this place for two nights. If an inflammation should appear, I did not want to treat it anywhere in the forest. The stay in Pahia of course offers certain amenities that I would not have otherwise in the forest – if life shows itself from the pleasant side, one should simply let it be. Personally surprising was of course that also here in New Zealand, a good, genuine Styrian Gösser beer is available.

Such stays in places that are fully open to tourism already have their charm. Comparable to Lignano in Italy, it lies in the centre of the Bay of Bays. Dozens of offshore islands with their bays offer with their bays enough space for any kind of water sports.

Just outside of Pahia lies Waitangi – a place steeped in history. In 1840 the “Treaty of Waitangi” between Maori and Europeans was signed here and at the same time the state of New Zealand was founded. Besides visiting this site you could also attend traditional Maori rituals – like the welcome ceremony and various dances. The welcome was quite frightening – how must the Europeans have felt more than 200 years ago, when several hundred Maori stood face to face with this ceremony. A real man has at least 120 kg here – what I have seen so far, there are only real men.

But of course, life is not only about pleasure – my grandma used to say that to me. The next forest was not long in coming. Here I had the feeling as if I was the first person ever to cross this forest, because there was no trail to find. The navigation only with map is not possible in the dense undergrowth, so I had to improvise. The only constant was a river, to follow it in water for more than 3 hours was the logical consequence. Partly up to the hip in the water keeps fresh – of course I had booked the usual jungle extreme package again – crawling on all four, slipping & falling down and getting messed up from top to bottom by mud.

Rain is usually followed by sunshine – the bush in this case is dry roads, bays and beaches – exactly this sequence was the program for the next 300 km. A never ending cycle. To march along asphalt roads has never been my special discipline. Apart from the fact that it is dangerous, it is of course not to be outdone in boredom. So thumb out – a kiwi always takes you to the next forest.

The north of Auckland has a lot to offer – endless, deserted beaches, each one unique – even a beach grouch like me can liked it. 

The walks along the beaches are far from any romance – the wind is blowing, the sun is beating down and when you can see the next 20 km, your destination is far, far away. From time to time fishermen provide a little bit of variety – like this one they proudly present their catch (Red Snapper).

As always on my hikes I am provided with excellent shoes by Lowa – this time in Auckland the first shoe change was announced. After having to wait a few days for the package with the new trekking shoes, this was of course a great opportunity to watch the quarter-final game of the All Blacks for the Rugby World Cup in a sports bar. The bar was hopelessly crowded at 8 a.m. – the Kiwis were thirsty for beer in the morning. The atmosphere was sensational. After the game was clearly won, most people continued to party until the evening.

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