Trail angels and food

Tuesday 28th of November 2017
We're together again ! After a breakfast in Ponsonby, we go to meet Gabrielle from the Frogs, we book our bus ticket to Mercer and we join the TA trail. The trail between Auckland and Clevedon is only on roads and we don't really want to hike them. Also, the TA website says that Hunua Range is closed, which means that the next section of trail on paths starts from Mercer.
We arrive at Podge's place, where we can pitch our tent for free in the backyard. The owner has a collection of pictures of all the TA walkers that stopped by at her place. We have a pizza and a beer before going to sleep.
Wednesday 29th November 2017
We're ready for a new day of tramping. It starts with a nice path that becomes not so nice when we have to cross a patch of gorse bush. We spent an awful moment crawling under the branches, passing through others and we eventually reach the end of the tunnel... to see that there was another way of arriving there, without gorse bush ! Rhaaaaa !
After passing above and under the State Highway a few times, we follow the river and then the stopbanks near the road till Rangiriri and Cathy's pie shop. She runs a B&B, bakes delicious pies and provides free campsites for the hikers. These days, everything is really turning around food ! We camp there with Joachim that we keep meeting since a few days. There is also a couple of kiwis that were at Podge's place as well. We enjoy the afternoon together around fresh drinks.
Through the gorse bush

Thanks Cathy for the nice welcoming message and for your hospitality
Thursday 30th November 2017
We start walking a bit late, because I was discussing with Cathy. Sometimes, I regret that we don't take more time to exchange more deeply with the people we meet on our way. The conversation is so interesting (we talked for example about spirituality and the ways to develop it with the children, so I told her about a tool that we use in my scout association) that we have another coffee/tea with Cathy before hitting the trail.
Today's trail is better than expected. We follow nice stop banks that are not invaded by the trees and the plants. The cattle met on the trail do not move much and we arrive easily to the road where we plan to hitchhike.
Dangerous steps
Today is a short day. We arrive at Judy and Bruce's place before lunch. They run a very nice and comfortable place for the TA walkers. It isn't far from the trail and they offer all the amenities we could dream of. When the rain starts pouring, we come inside the hiker's lounge, relax on the sofa, and read our book. Another great place to stay on the trail : we are so lucky !

Friday 1st December 2017
What a nice weather and what a view ! Hakarimata Range requires some efforts, with its hundreds of steps. But it's rewarding to get the views while climbing. Instead of the 6 to 7 hours expected to cross the Range, it takes us only 4 hours and an half.
Our tonight's host, David, comes to grab us on the road at the end of the forest track. He wrote to us on our Facebook a few months ago, proposing us to stay at his place in Hamilton. So we contacted him back a few days ago and here we are !
As we arrived quite early, David suggest that we visit Hamilton Gardens and he guides us there. The place is particularly beautiful. I especially like that they designed thematic gardens and that all of them are of high quality.
David prepares us a nice evening meal and we discuss about political structures in Belgium. It reminds me of my years at university. David
is a very interesting man and we enjoy very much the time spent with him.
In the evening, Marie and me realize that we forgot to answer a message from our friends Jan and Wayne (she was thinking I answered and I was thinking that she did). We send them one and soon we're talking with Wayne at phone. They had to stop hiking because of a hips problem and they propose that we come to their place. We check the bus timetables and we decide to join them for the weekend. Perfect timing !

Short break in Hakarimata forest


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