Sep 17 day 17 Waipu Cove to Mangawhai Village (Mangawhai Camp) 28 km 7:30-2:30
Very straightforward day. Woke to clear blue skies, got on trail fairly early, had to backtrack to the turn which took me up through a subdivision. They are building lots of upscale houses on the ridges overlooking the bays and islands. After a while, the road turned to gravel and I entered an area being logged off, soon coming up on one of those large winching machines they put at ridge tops to pull whole trees up the hill from the ridges where they have been cut out by chainsaws. It was exactly like the Stamper operation in the film version of Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion. I had to stop a while just to watch the sheer force being deployed to harvest trees is such difficult terrain. The track then rose up to follow a ridge line with occasional great views of the bays one either side of the head, before descending to a road and then back up a farm track to the edge of the coast. One amazing thing about farmscapes here is that Calla Lilies bloom in clumps all over the pastures near streams or pools. The track then turned to follow the coastal cliff down to Mangawhai Heads, which included a short bit hiking on the beach (seems requisite on this part of the trek). Got lunch and a great smoothie made of some NZ fruit at the Heads before crossing into Mangawhai village and pitching my tent at the campground. The campgrounds here can be interesting. Talked a while to Mike, the manager, who explained that the 68 lots in this one were sold off, and the owners park caravans or build cabins to rent or to live in. I am pitched in a little green bit of lawn between a couple of occupied cabins– my tent is quite a contrast. Strolled into town to the Smashed Pipi Gallery and Bar to have beer and pizza, something I’ve been craving. Talked a while with the outgoing manager– it was his last night running the place– about how peaceful living in this area is, unlike Auckland which is not so far down the road these days.