After three days of walking through Auckland, we’ve finally left the largest city in New Zealand.
After breakfast and a quick stop at the small corner grocery store up the street from CareFree’s apartment to mail off a box to Wellington, CareFree and I caught a bus back to the airport, where we left off yesterday.
We continued following roads, leading around the north side of Auckland Airport. At a construction site, one of the workers walked us through part of the construction area. It was a nice gesture, though I’m not sure it was really necessary.
The road took us roughly parallel to the airport’s runway, which gave us good views of several aircraft that came in for landing while we were walking past, the largest of which was an A380.
A bit more than an hour along roads brought us to the Puhinui Reserve, a protected working farm and wetlands, which also contains three small maar, volcano calderas that have become lakes.
Also near the entrance to the reserve is a sheep paddock. As we walked by, two Auckland Council trucks hauled away two trailers full of sheep, with dogs in the truck beds. There were still plenty more sheep in the pen which we had to walk through to continue the trail.
On the other side of the sheep paddock, the trail winds its way through a thin forest, roughly paralleling Puhinui Creek, and bordering an industrial area. We eventually left the forest and began another roadwalk, going through the industrial area.
Another 45 minutes of roads brought us to a concrete cycle path through another park, continuing to parallel Puhinui Creek. In the park, we passed several abandoned shopping carts; we were briefly tempted to take one or two and push our packs, rather than carry them.
The cycle path then led through a grassy area in a residential community, connecting to a number of other local pathways.
Following the creek next brought through the Auckland Botanical Gardens, and to a picnic area in Tōtara Park, where we stopped for a break. It was quite loud there, which was somewhat tiring, but then a huge group of people (at least two bus loads) left, and it became quiet and relaxing.
Leaving the park put us on a road walk for the rest of the day, taking us further south, away from Auckland. After an hour of road walk, tired, we stopped at a gas station for ice cream and sodas.
In the gas station, a local asked what trail we were doing, because she’d seen many hikers go past. We explained we were on Te Araroa, and that this particular section of trail was due to a re-route originally necessary because of damage to trail in the Hunua Ranges to the east from a storm in 2015; since then, trails there had also been closed due to other reasons, including kauri dieback concerns, and the TA rerouted multiple times to its present course south of Auckland. The woman offered to give us a ride down the road to a park that would be nicer than sitting on the ground next to the side of the gas station, but we declined, wanting to keep our “continuous” footpath.
Later, after we continued south, two other locals asked what trail we were doing, again having seen many hikers go past. An old guy making a turn in front of us yelled out “Kia Ora! Welcome to New Zealand!”. And a shirtless guy walked and chatted with us for a minute or so, prompting me to comment that “everyone in New Zealand is friendly, even the street weirdoes!”
Our destination today is the Applaud B&B in Drury, a small rural town just south of Auckland city (but still within the Auckland region). We arranged for a room while we were stopped at the gas station. When we arrived, just after 6 pm, Robert, the owner greeted us. Before we went inside, we had a long meandering conversation wherein he ascertained our countries of origin; had CareFree try and guess the breed of dog he had that he wanted us to ignore (Weimaraner) based on obscure German trivia; told us he was usually pretty good at guessing peoples professions, and then utterly failed to guess ours (especially when I gave no hints; he couldn’t decide if I was an “indoor” or “outdoor” person); and told us we were within two minutes of not getting the room and being relegated to the cabin, because we’d sent him a message to reserve the room just in time. It was weird. Then he finally let us in and gave us a tour.
We got showers, and then ate dinner; I had sandwiches that CareFree prepared for us last night.
Going to sleep, I’m not feeling all that great; either I definitely have a cold of some sort, or the two dogs and a cat in the B&B are triggering an allergic reaction. At least, we’ll only be here one night.