Manauka Cove to start of the Kimpton Track
What an amazing sleep! I wish every night was on a custom designed mattress of beach grass.
Prana and I take off early, and promptly get off the trail for a ways without realizing it. When we finally notice, its a convolution to get back on the main path through an old quarry. This is the last non-road area we will see for awhile, though, so perhaps best that it lasted longer.
We pass a virtual occupation; an area that a Māori group has strong ties and history to has been parceled for development. It’s in the courts right now, but the occupation is by art, poetry, flags, and images.
It’s a fascinating idea, one I have never heard of before. Looks like similar things are happening in many places around the world- I can’t decide if I find that encouraging or dispiriting.
Our next turn takes us onto a busier road, and the next onto busier again. Soon we are near the airport area of Auckland, and the world is filled with industry and velocity. We all dart across the multi lane highway to fill water at a Carl’s Jr (except Bro, who intelligently walks the long way around the roundabout). Considering the risk it took to make it, we splurge on coffee as well. (Coffee from Carl’s Jr.? you may be thinking. I don’t believe I’ve mentioned this yet- every fast food restaurant serves barista-quality coffee, fresh pulled espresso. No scorched-tasting drip machine, no watered down concentrate. Fabulous.)
There is a lot of weird stuff by the Auckland airport. There is an undercover park- what does that even mean? The signs show dinosaurs, but don’t tell much about what to expect. There’s also a Crocodile Show and a Butterfly House; the ads are displayed half and half vertically on the same sign, so it appears as though the croc is blasting up out of the water, mouth wide to devour the butterflies floating just above it. A little something for everyone, I guess. Do all airports have these bizarre entertainment venues?
The rest of the morning is stringing together short sections of park with semi-pleasant neighborhood roads. It’s fairly peaceful going, and water is unexpectedly easy to find (which seems unworthy of mention unless you’ve tried to walk across an industrial section or suburban residential neighborhood of a large city).
At one park we come upon our first singing toilet. Prana was on the lookout from a blog he reads, but its a full surprise for me and I can’t believe it at first. You push the unlock button from the outside. The door slides open. You push the lock button from the inside. The door slides shut. A voice announces you have ten minutes. Then a jazzy mellow piano-rich version of ‘What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love’ blasts over speakers. It’s all stainless steel on the inside. You do your business, and a TP dispenser measures out your ration. When you hold your hands under the automatic soap dispenser and then the automatic faucet, the toilet flushes itself. When you unlock the door, the music stops. Oh my gosh.
It reminds me of a friend’s bathroom in college; he had rewired the light switch to light a lamp and start a tape deck. Inviting, you know? I could spend an hour opening and closing the door and listening to the music, but hiking must be done.
I start to get dangerously hungry for lunch, and my feet are sharply aching, but we are trying to make it to the Botanical Gardens for the break. After a already-fragile-morale-deflating unexpected backtrack to detour around a closed bridge, we do make it. We devour lunch, then drift from the main trail to check out some bright splotches in the distance. It turns out the splotches are hundreds and hundreds of roses.
I wander for awhile, trying to search out every color, when I realize Prana and Ellie have gone on. I follow the gps through several random non-path areas, and eventually end up on a sidewalk that is the trail.
The last obstacle of today is the final road- it’s reportedly besieged by logging trucks going 100 k an hour. We plan to try and time it so we walk that road after 5:00, hoping the traffic will decrease; but didn’t account for the road leading to it being just as terrible. The trucks roar by, and there’s no break in the cars. I finally catch up to Prana and Ellie, waiting on the long acre, and as relieved as I am to have a break, I am in a downright foul mood. Once we move off the road up what may be a side road or may be a long driveway and there is more buffer for the noise, I start to feel a bit better. My feet feel mangled and my knees ache- probably well past the time to switch to fresh shoes. We flag down Bro and then Parker as they march by, and all start cooking an early dinner. A car turns in mid-meal, and though my first assumption, based on all the closed circuit surveillance camera warnings I have noticed since collapsing here, is that we will be asked to leave, the woman simply asks if we need anything.
The traffic does die down around 6:00, and we finish walking the road more peacefully. We plan to camp at the start of the next hiking track, but when we arrive, there is not much in the way of flat land. We top the first ridge and deem it flat enough. The grass is waist high, but shouldn’t be too difficult to pitch in, as long as we can keep track of the tent stakes. It is the inaugural set up of our new tent! I am very excited.
Not too bad. “In Germany when someone has a new house, we bring bread, and we bring salt. Ellie says. “I don’t have any bread or salt. I do have lemon pepper!”
We crawl inside- this feels like it will be a good home.