Sep 10 day 10 KeriKeri to Opua 27 km 7:30-1:30
Wandered up the streets of KeriKeri before 7:00 and found a bake shop open, so started the morning with a sausage roll. It would be hard to be a vegetarian on this trail, as the quick, cheap, convenient food nearly always includes some sort of meat in a baked crust. As it was a long walk just to get out of town, I also got a McDonalds coffee– here they have a barista and do not sell drip. Walked past the Old Stone Store, an original building that’s pretty imposing, then through orange groves, with little honor boxes, selling kilo bags of oranges and lemons. It poured rain all day, but I was all rain-geared up and, except up on the ridges in the Waitangi Forest where the wind blew strong, it was warm enough. Much of the path was lined with gorse bushes, something I associate more with Winnie-the-Pooh than with NZ (though perhaps they were introduced to make the place more like England). When the wind blew lightly you could smell that tropical odor the gorse flowers make. Track was solid and fast, and I soon got to Waitangi, the place of the treaty. Tried to get a picture, but my phone was too wet to use. Wandered through Paihia, a happening place with lots of restaurants, but I pushed on to Opua, where tomorrow I take a boat over to Waikare and the beginning of the Russell Forest. The only motel in Opua was closed for repair, but Leah, the proprietor, opened us a room for me– everybody has been so great. Opua is a port town, with a large ferry dock, and marina. Wandered down in the evening to the yacht club who let a poor wandering landlubber join with the wandering sailors. Had steaming bowl of chowder while listening to 4 men who had made the crossing from Fiji in very foul weather, laying up in Opua as the closest safe port though eventually they need to make it back to the South Island. All were exhausted and energetically addressing themselves to their steak dinners. Looking forward to spending most of the day tomorrow lounging by the docks, waiting for high tide and the trip to Waikare.