Paihia to Doc Campsite in Russel Forest – 34km (279 km total)
The km for today does not match the total. The trail notes for this section are based on kayaking from Opua to Waikare. However, it cost $90 to kayak, so I chose the $1 ferry across to Okiato and then a 19km road walk to meet back up with the track.
The weather report lied to me. Firstly, the weather over the weekend wasn’t as bad as predicted and I could have hiked out after a day. Then, the report said that there was meant to be heavy rain last night (which there was), but then clear all day (which it wasn’t). I walked in rain on and off all day.
The walk between Paihia and Opua was lovely, along the beach/rocks and then in the rainforest, just above the foreshore. It could only have been better if it wasn’t raining.
The ferry across was a great, but too short a reprieve from walking. Okiato is apparently the original site of where Zealand’s first capital was meant to be. From there it was a short 1km walk in a rainforest before road walking the rest of the way to Waikare. Part of me doesn’t mind the road walking but part of me does and that is my feet. Surprisingly when the terrain changes and isn’t just flat, my feet hurt less.
The highlight of the day started 4km out of Waikare as I entered into Russel Forest and walked in the river for 3-4km. It was lovely and the cold water made my feet hurt less. I was worried that it might be too deep after the rain, but the highest it ever got was just above my knee. However, the going was slow. It took just under 2 hours to complete the river section.
As I walked into camp, I meet the hikers that I had walked past earlier in the day as they hitched the road section.
Today I am thankful for walking in beautiful rivers.