Te Araroa: Waikare Connection (from Paihia to Waikare)

On Sunday, it was finally time to get into our kayak to paddle from Paihia to Waikare. Something we have been looking forward to for ages (interesting: you start off on a thru-hike, and this is what you are looking out to…). However, when we wake up on Sunday morning, we hear the rain drops falling down on the roof of our little cabin. Not the weather we had hoped for.

After having breakfast, we went to Dan from Bay Beach Hire to ask his opinion about the weather. A simple question, with a very long and long answer. It took him almost 30 minutes to tell us that the weather would turn (in our favor) in the afternoon. He thought that we would have a fair chance for some good once we hit the water.

Dan was also thrilled with enthusiasm that we had found four other TA-hikers (Nadja, the German hiker we did the Northland Forests with; Yvonne, a fellow Dutch hiker and who was walking with Boris from French and Paul from New Zealand). Because you have to arrive with high tide in Waikare, we couldn’t start paddling until late in the afternoon. Meaning that we would not have a lot of time to get to Waikare before getting dark. But according to Dan, there should be just enough time to get there. For us, this meant, we had another day to spend in Paihia.

Because it was still raining, we first enjoyed some hot drinks. After about an hour or so, we moved to another bar to get some lunch, followed by a nice dessert at the local bakery (what a life…). While we were enjoying our food fest, Yvonne, Boris and Paul arrived in Paihia and all together we walked to Dan. Dan introduced us to yet another hiker (Leigh, from the states), who would also join us on our kayak adventure. Meaning we were with seven now: three two-person kayaks, and one single. After a lot of instructions, safety briefing and social talk, we finally set off around a quarter to four.

It was so nice to be in our kayak and feel the swell of the ocean. However, the further we paddled, the less swell we noticed. After about half an hour, we passed Opua, where we had to cross the ferry. This sounded way more scary when Dan talked about than it actually was. You just have to clear the path of the ferry, that is all. From Opua, it was easy paddling all the way to Marriot Island. Because there apparently is no more phone reception after Marriot Island, we called Dan to let him know we had arrived at the halfway point. According to him, we were there way to early and had to take a break to wait for high tide. There are worse places to get a break, especially now that the sun had come out.

Around 6pm, we jumped into our kayaks again and set off for the second part of our kayak adventure. After about 40 minutes, we arrived at the first mangroves, where we immediately grounded our kayak: that is thus the reason why you have to wait for high tide. Taking a closer look at the water, we could see distinguish shallow and deep water. While zigzagging through the mangrove, we could see someone paddling towards us: Dan had come out on his own kayak to paddle the last bit with us. The deeper we got into the mangrove, the narrower it became, until we finally hit a dead end: Waikare. While we were getting out of our kayaks, Dan ‘tried’ to land his kayak, but made a mistake and flipped. Because he was taking pictures of us, paddling in the setting sun, he had his phone out, which unfortunately ended up on the bottom of the river. He tried to find it, but when he felt an eel, he jumped out of the water. Too bad of all the photo’s.

After exchanging the kayaks for our gear, we starting walking again. In the last light, we (all seven of us) arrived at Sheryl’s Place. A local couple that lives off-grid and are very hospitable to TA-hikers.

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