WHERE: Ahipara to Kerikeri – North Island, New Zealand
WHEN: December, 2016
WHO: Karma
OBJECTIVE: Te Araroa thru-hike
DISTANCE: 101.1 – 220.1 km

A hundred kilometers through the Northland Forests was both amazing and one of the hardest things I have ever done!

The forests or I should say, Raetea Forest, nearly made me cry… blood, sweat, and mud pretty much sum it up. It feels awesome to have done it, but my knees did not quite agree with near vertical descents in deep mud… compounded by repeated 30 km heavy hiking days… other than that I feel great! My little toe survived the forests too and is getting better for each day, yay! My boots rocked the mud and I came out with dry feet!

My absolute favorite moment from this stage was about 3 km of river walking the Mangapukahukahu stream connecting the Omahuta and Puketi forests. It was such a beautiful experience! Another highlight was accidentally missing a turnoff on the Te Araroa and ending up on the Northland Wine Trail instead… stopped into a local vineyard for a wine tasting, then hiked another 6 km into Kerikeri – with a bottle of wine in the backpack…

I was forced (oh alright I needed one) to take a rest day in Kerikeri because I could not get into my bounce box until Monday morning since the post office is closed on Sundays. Rest days are not anything near what that word implies though! You have to do laundry, shower, resupply, repack and mend gear… Some people call it “zero days” which is more suitable, ie 0 km done on the trail that day, but a lot of running around locally.

I was actually adopted by a trail family of 8 other Te Araroa thru-hikers in Ahipara and we all did the stage together which was nice. We all hike our own hikes but run into one another now and then throughout the day and then usually camp together in the evening most of the days. In Kerikeri, we also met a very nice Slavic film crew making a documentary about Te Araroa. They interviewed us and hung with us for a few of days. They will try to follow up with us further down the trail again.

I have had incredible luck with the weather so far… aside for a brief shower one night it has been warm and sunny. The forests brought me over to the east side of the North Island so beautiful ocean walks await for the next stage. I cannot wait!

This is so awesome!!!