34. Heaphy – Track End (Heaphy Track 4/4) – Karamea

Thursday, March 16: Some clouds in the valley at dawn, otherwise quite sunny

Tramping: 15.6 km

Rongo Backpackers, Waverley St, Karamea, $65 for twin as single (independent hostel)

I slept through from midnight to 6:00, and then some snoring started, so it was difficult to get back to sleep and although no one else in our dorm was making a move I decided to get up around 7:00.

Cheese was still good, milk was about to run out, but there are enough coffee, sugar and ryvita to last for the second leg. I had everything dry (including the sox I had brought in the night before and hung in the common room), packed away, and ready to go shortly after 8:15 and was on the track a few minutes later.

Apart from one section of the track that was diverted through mud, everything else was fine. Most of the path was through nikau groves still in the shadow of the mountains and would thus be better for an afternoon walk, but it was never far from the beach with more or less large waves crashing on the granite sand. Some mist was rising, some mist was still in the hills. Numerous streams and a couple of rivers were racing in their granite beds to the sea. Plenty of shots were taken and nearly all the early risers overtaken at some point, except for Stuart & Diana. Quite a group collected peu a peu @ Katipo Shelter, which was halfway point, at just after 10:00. A couple of weka could be convinced to come closer by pretending to feed them, and I also got one or two shots of them close up.

There were a number of rocky beaches along the way which did not invite to be walked upon, but occasionally there was a bit of sand, with some rocks standing around. As the tide was coming in I stopped at where some surf was breaking over a large rock for some pix of the spray shower. A little further on there was a beach section that looked quite walkable and I took some polfiltered shots as well. Ahead of me were the three hippy bus revivalists, and on the way up to the final pass I joined them for the last section over the Kohaihai Bluff.

Stroll along the beach. GPS quality: 30/30, coverage: 100%, download: Heaphy - Kohaihai River GPX (50 downloads)

At the pass there was a side track to a lookout – and from there there appears to be a bushbash down to the beach (not suitable for cyclists); apart from that everything was well graded. The sign at the top of said 30 minutes each way, but we had been somewhat faster. Quite a number of day walkers were passing us by and we were soon down on the level at the Kohaihai River where we were met by Richard’s wife, Louise. I took a couple of pictures of the three and the four of them, and we were soon in a shelter at the track end carpark.

Louise had bought four muffins, one of which was offered to me; then a guy came looking for Stuart & Diana, but they had apparently already left. He then offered a lift to anyone wanting one, which could only be me, and I thought I could save having Rongo come out to pick me up. We decided, however, to call them first to ask them whether that would be OK (the telephone was in a tardis-like box in the shelter) and that being the case, I went up to the fellow’s unique VW bus/campervan construction which seemed to date from around the time of my first visit to New Zealand some decades ago and was soon seated and on the road to Karamea. Nice people – Selwyn & Margaret – he is an ex-vet who had worked in immunology in Oklahoma & also in education, and very much a lone skeptic. On arrival here got a picture of his vehicle and suggested to him he might look into the New Zealand Skeptics.

Was greeted here by co-proprietor Paul, an Aussie from Kangaroo Island, shown around & eventually stripped off for a shower & then had all the clothes washed to the tune of writing the diary, and snacks and sushi from various staff members and the other co-proprietor’s girlfriend, Sonoya. By this time I had been reduced to my last pair of underpants and the girlfriend gave me a t-shirt to wear for the interim.

As the afternoon wore on I went shopping at the Four Square and was overtaken by Paul who offered me a lift there and back, so I picked up some bread, ham, apples, milk, beer and a pair of glasses that are the right values, but as the lenses are larger than any other pair that I have worn they will take a bit of time getting used to. At least I can read again.

Back here I sat down with Cecile who was filling out her diary and I offered a place on a kayak to her, while at the same time sending off a spot OK.

Rongo was having a “Heaphy Feast” tonight, and Paul had suggested swapping out the $20 transport that I had cancelled for the $35 dinner which would be fine by me (BYO drinks, 7:00). The menu – prepared by Paul’s wife, a Japanese cook – was Exotic Pumpkin Soup with Focaccia; beef/pork patties with green salad, and zucchini brownies with macadamia and cream, all thoroughly tasty and sufficient after four days of tramping, and the price was right. Another Japanese woman turned up to serve the meal, and much mirth was had at my expense as I muddled their names and relationships. The party continued with a bonfire out the back with mainly the woofers taking part, and Paul and a friend recording a program for Radio Karamea in the small but open studio close by. The night sky was spectacular and strangely for the first time on this trip I felt at home.

Long discussions with Lea (Lucerne, becoming a primary school teacher), Benedicte, Ollie, Ben, Debra (Singapore) and anyone else who would listen and discuss, with Tibo (France) playing the ultra skeptic – watching the stars & the satellites zipping between them I called on someone to get a camera with a tenfold zoom to photograph the rising Jupiter – and lo & behold two of its moons.

Was back in my room around 11:00, winding down, the noise from the still partying woofers was dying down and they were very considerate about closing doors, so I was soon in the land of nod, after a long tramp, in a comfortable bed.