Distance Covered: 26 km
Two days off, it turns out, is a good amount of time to trick your mind into believing that you're better. Your body is not so easily fooled! Just looking at our packs, freshly laden with 6 days of food, was enough for alarm bells in our feet to begin wailing. 'No!', they cry. 'Noooooo!'... We are not deaf to their appeals. It is just that we are powerless to respond. The trail calls!
The day started with finding our way to the trail. We asked a construction worker and he pointed the way and added 'But that's a long way away!' Buddy, we know it! Then we met two nice women who stopped us to say hi, ask about American politics (big topic over here), and learn more about the trail. A little while later, we found the forest track. It's a meandering series of old forestry roads with mountain bike trails intersecting at various points. Top notch walking, in my opinion.
After 15 or so km, we popped out of the forest to find the Bay of Islands in the distance. Have I mentioned how pretty it can be here?
We wound our way down towards the bay, stopping at the Waitaingi Treaty Grounds. I was looking forward to learning more about their history, but they wouldn't sell us tickets as there was less than an hour left before closing. As a consolation, we got some sweet potato fries at the cafe. Their fries are white and have a texture (to me) of almost a cake. Delicious! Also, if you're into cute things, these baby ducks stopped by to check out our gear. Emily just about died from overexposure to fluffiness.
Moving on, we walked south through the tourist town of Paihia. It has many little islands to see from the waterfront, restaurants to eat at, and motels to sleep in. The skies were gray and threatening, but we made time to put our feet up.
Something cool happened in town! Emily lost her umbrella in the Raetea forest. A vine or felled tree ripped it from her backpack and we didn't notice it until we were down the trail a way. As it was the (damned) Raetea trail we didn't turn back for it. But out come two hikers from a restaurant in town to ask as about grouping together for the ferry tomorrow (they charge per group). And they said they found Emily's umbrella! So tomorrow we'll meet them at the wharf at 5 PM to catch the high tide ferry across the bay.
And since the ferry is so late, we'll have something of a relaxed day walking just a couple of km to the meeting point. Tonight is supposed to have quite a bit of rain so we're glad that we'll also be able to dry things before packing up.