After spending a few days in Taupo over the long weekend, we recommenced our journey at the start of the Timber Cycle Trail on the outskirts of Pureora Forest Park. We were giving mountain bikes a go. Thanks to Allie, Bevan and Marie. Also thanks to Ann Chris's sister for bringing over 93 year old Dad for a face to face visit with Chris, was great to see him.The initial section of the trail is a very dense beautiful forest and got to see the Kaka, was fortunate to have one fly inches from my face so I realised what it was, like the big green beautiful parrot that it is and then saw a pair a bit further on as well. The trail then opened up onto logged forest tracks and soon started to ascend. With our packs on it proved to be interesting. Chris went over the handle bars and also hurt his man bits in separate incidents to Bella's great amusement, she hadn't seen her Dad curled up on the ground like that before. Was tear jerking funny once the pain stopped, it was painful watching. We camped beside one of the bridges on the first night and it rained but only after we were set up and ready to close our eyes. Still raining in the morning we waiting in our sleeping bags for a bit for the rain to stop. We broke camp and started biking again, did 15kms kms then set up camp at Piropiro, Dryed out all the gear and Bella got a bit sunburnt from chasing birds and riding around the camp, this was also the first time we have been able to have a camp fire, really enjoyed natures TV that night. We met a bear grills look alike. Odd being out in the middle of nowhere and a beautiful specimen with no shirt on that looks like a celebrity pops out. After that we all made reference to him as the Ab man, those abs went for days, I think the Ken doll was modelled on him. Nice chap as well he gave us a packet of biscuits now we are friends for life. We had bike trouble so Chris did McGaiver and asked one of the hunters to use his tools, we were good to go. Third day we did the 45kms to Ongarue, this was such a beautiful ride the trail got wider due to the beginning of the timber tramway line, the gully's were over grown and the forest and rock formations was like being on a movie set, the trees were huge, the furns and colours of moss and deadfall was amazing. Chris saw some deer and we all saw lots of birds doing their thing. This day was also amazing as Bella was using so much energy we held off bolusing for meals and we also cut back her insulin supply to 60% which is lower than her demand when she was first diagnosed and was in her honeymoon period of her diabetes. We are talking breakfast, snickers bars, poweraid drinks, whole grain wraps and noodles. We now have three Basal patterns settings in the pump, 1 for normal day, 1 for walking and 1 for cycling. The last 7kms of the trail including the spiral was fast and all down hill, what a ride. Chris throught he was going fast but Bella was right up his butt pushing him to go faster and faster. Once off the timber trail we met Rem on the bridge, he had a beer in his hand, Chris was going to tip him over the edge and steal his beer but got chatting and he turned out to be a nice guy who offered us a hot shower and filtered water and had great ideas on fine tuning the bikes for our final day. The last days cycle was to Taumranui along the back roads which heaps of people stopped for a chat as we rode out. Great people at the Taumranui Backpackers gave us an ensuite room for a great deal and let us use their laundry facilities. We did stink after a few days riding. Final words about cycles, my lady bits don't ever want to see a bike seat again, Bella felt the same walking like a cowgirl isn't fun. Bevan has picked the bikes and we are recommencing walking the trail on foot.
We met Charlie in Curly's who recognised us from TV3 we had dinner and great conversation, Charlie is part of the local search and rescue team in Waitomo and has local knowledge about the trail. His old maths teacher helped design part of the track that is included in the trail. We were told the old teacher was a tad grumpy which is why the trail goes up and down some steep summits when it could quiet easily go around without lossing the view. With this knowledge we took Fullerton road and then walked over the bridges and took an unsigned doc track up the hill, which did join back onto the signed trail we continued up the hill past the house which did join a road with some old homes with great established gardens. Sadly we came across two kiwi's that were road kill, first time seeing them in the wild, hope to see some alive. We stayed at Casa Backpackers on the hill, they picked us up from the isite and kindly took us to New World and also took us back into Te Kuiti the next day. We loved the roaring fire and great views from up on the hill. We also met some friends traveling together from Denmark, thanks for sharing the Pav, the great iconic New Zealand dessert?
Visiting Waitomo Caves is something I have always wanted to do, so was very excited to get there with my family. All those glow worms while you are floating along on your little boat in the dark is an amazing thing to see, then you learn about their life cycle and why their butts glow it takes the romantic notion out of the picture. The forest walk to the caves has beautiful old trees and the naturally occuring limestone formations, it lets you know you are in a forest that has been around a long time. I thought this forest walk was very beautiful and there is something to be learned about leaving forests untouched for hundreds of years. We were happy to walk out to join a tours but turned out if you ask and they have space they will give you a ride a few kms up the road to the caves, no problem. Bella enjoyed coconut chocolate without bolusing just from walking around the caves, at one point we were told we were 65 meters undergound.
Very sore body today, this track we found was the hardest to date, with us all having mulitple falls, slides and tanties. It was hard going in the mud, which was sometimes past my knees, I kept my boots attached to my feet but a couple of times wondered where they had gone. The weather was not great for us with our views limited to openings in the clouds. On the bright side, the new hut is fantastic, cold, there wasn't a time when we could not see our breath. No we weren't able to make smoke rings like Gandalf. People shared their candles at night and the conversation was interesting. In the morning there were ultra runners and athletes getting training sessions in. Totally felt like we were our of our league when in their company, must say they aren't wearing the big packs but yeah "who runs to the top of a crazy mountain just for fun", no running for us. On the fantastic boardwalk from the hut to Hirikiwi lookout you walk through some amazing forest, different to anything we have encourtered so far, it had a surreal feel as it was misty and water droplets dripping from every unusual moss, fern and tree trunk formations. On the way down we were very lucky to met Paul who went to the top and joined us again before we reached the bottom. Great knowledge and experience of the trails and we hope to catch up with him again in the South Island when we pass his way.
Thanks to my sister Herani, her partner Alkana and their family for taking care of our tired mind and bodies. While we were resting we were very lucky to go to the movie set of the Hobbit in Matamata. All the Foote’s have read all the books and have seen the movies also previously Chris and I have climbed Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom in the movie). We have all looked forward to taking this tour, and yes we all loved it. The attention to detail that was paid to each hobbit hole, the Green Dragon pub, which we did enjoy a drink in at the end of the tour was very cool. The fake tree above the Baggins hobbit house gets leaves rewired every couple of years to make it look authentic. I loved the array of different flowers outside each hobbit door, the colours were vibrant and it was nice to see the good old fuzzie bumble bee. Played dress ups like hobbit ladies, was all good fun and a very enjoyable day. Think this may have been Bella's best day yet.
Walking the Waikato River was cows, cows and more cows, did think about giving up milk as this is the time of year all the calf’s are separated from their moody mothers. Not to mention the bully bulls looking at you like they are going to eat you. Just have to remember Waikato is farm land and the rolling hills beautifully deep green grass with the river running through and lots of spring flowers in bloom does make for a pleasant walk when not worrying about the moo’s. The stark contrast of the brutalist architecture of the 70’s Huntly power station against it surroundings was very in your face, interesting. Looking forward to a rest and going to Hobbit land.
After a beautiful sunrise and thanks to the great bus driver that took us to the Hauraki Gulf ferry terminal we were on our way to Tiritiri Matangi Island, a bird sanctuary island that was replanted 30 years ago by volunteers and is an amazing place to see many rare birds and hear about the conservation efforts to preserve and regenerate many endangered species. We took a tour guided by Chris, who was a great guide and very knowledgeable about how the island got to it's current state. The differences between the 6% or the islands original forest vs the replanting that has taken place leaves you wondering and amazed at what land would actually be like naturally. Birds nesting at heights not far off the ground safely. Saddle backs doing their thing on the ground, the stitch birds and the bell birds all putting on busy displays. The Tui's singing and the amazing Takahe, which we were lucky to spot, there are only around 300 off these left in the world, so felt very privileged to see a pair. After our tour and walk for a few hours we sat and listened to the chorus it was just fantastic. Would love to stay the night sometime and hear and see the kiwis. Maybe another time.
We started on the Perimeter track after saying goodbye to the old beauty that is Caldron House. The walk up the side of the hill was very much worth it when you came through a break in the forest to beautiful views of the inlet and the Hauraki Gulf, it was another stop and breath it all in moment. The track is well defined and marked, on the way down the other side we met Raphael who is also doing the trail, he is moving faster than our little family, I think everybody is moving faster than us but I am loving that we are taking time to smell the flowers on the way. Was good to met another trailer and share a few stories. We were lucky enough to get to Waiwera at lowish tide and head around the foreshore. Tide was on the way in so got to Hatfields Beach just in time with boots getting just a little wet. Then onto the Orewa beach for a walk along the foreshore. You can feel that you are in a more populated area, people are looking but not so many asking and stopping to have conversations. We stayed at the Top ten holiday park on the beach it was great to get some washing done and get ready to visit Tiritiri Matangi Island tomorrow. Bella once again is our trouper and had a great day.
Arrived in Warkworth hot and tired but very happy with the day, every day is a new town and new people and we never know who we are going to meet or where we will end up, I love this way of travelling, we also get to walk and discover tracks and trails that only the local use, after Warkworth we stop at Wenderholm Camping ground, while lazing in the sun Raechell made a passing comment and said , "did you grab the insulin out of the fridge in Warkworth", my reply was "no!!"....so i had to hitch hike for the first time, I walked up to the higway and stuck out my thumb nervously...and my thumb worked, to my great surpise a very nice bloke called Peter pulled over and took me all the way to warkworth, I picked up the insulin and then Peter dropped me off just outside of town were I had a better chance of getting another ride...Thanks Peter great ride and good conversation.....Peter was right I got a lift within about 5 minuste from a guy named Daniel who was heading to Auckland....I got back to camp feeling like I had just tick off a bucket list item.....awesome..... we then sneaked off to the Waiwera hot pools, man we were sleepy after that and had to walk back to the camp ground, one pool was 48 degrees nearly cooked me.
Bella's Blood sugers are stable, and the contiued walking gives her a really nice heathy glow to her face.....we have created a new basel pattern for the insulin pump and it seems to be working well, no hypos for a while now, which is good as she is getting sick of the lollies and chocolate,......never thought I would here that from Bella...actually she still loves chocolate its wishfull thinking from me that she is sick of chocolate.
Sandflies love Bella and Raechell, not me though hahahaha they just land on me and pass out from the smell.....
Bella just reminded me to mention Nigel, our favourite duck he was great company, even when he was trying to get into tent or steal my pack...which was about 100 times bigger then he was.
The sandfly's are out with their families in the dunes 1st thing in the morning, it makes you want to put your boots on and hide. They are vicious. Boots time in the morning is not something I look forward to, the feet are taking a worse for wear look at the moment. Amazed at how tough they are though. Walking into high tide meant running from the income waves at times, and way too much singing much to Bella's dismay. We came off the beach and met Shawn who was kind enough to give us a ride to Matakana. Bruno it was great to make your acquaintence today, love that you are bursting with so much character and thanks for sharing your pinecone.