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Published: March 30th 2013
A quick update, because free internet is few and far between if you don't have a laptop or smartphone around these parts.
Although it's already a few days ago, let me tell you about how I got lost outside Whangarei (pronounce: Fangarei).
Because I was still exhausted from my long trek to the Waipu Caves through the hills, my caving adventure at the Waipu Caves, and the long climb towards a little piece of Paradise called Little Earth Lodge east of Whangarei, right next to the Abby Caves, which I also explored. Being so tired, and needing to see a bit more of Whangarei, instead of moving to the next city I moved to the next hostel, a bit north of Whangarei, so I would have a headstart the next day.
This gave me the time to explore Whangarei a bit more, and the hostel owner offered to drop me off in the centre of the city, so I could walk from there to whatever. Decided to go to the Quarry Arts Village, a little gathering of craftsworkshops and galleries. From there there is a footpath to the Quarry Arts Gardens, which turned to be straight upstairs on a hill.
When I finally did reach the Quarry Arts Gardens (there was a sign), I saw a path to the left. I thought: "That must lead around the gardens."
An hour later of walking through a path that obviously wasn't used too much judging by the growth around it, walking up hills and getting ever more scenic views, I started assuming I wasn't near the Gardens any more. Met some Czechs who lived in a remote house atop the hill, and they told me there was a path down, through some 'jungle' (guy had the same Teeva-sandals as me, said they weren't as fit for it as shoes..) and it was a hard path.
Found it after a bit, and yes...though it was well sign-posted, it was a hard path: growth across the path, ducking under tree logs, jumping over a stream..not your regular path. Finally, at the end I got to the top of a hill where there was a sign: Whai Dam (place north-west of the city): half hour walk, Pukenui (far west of the city): 5.5 hour walk. Not where I wanted to go.
So after going for the dam path for a bit, judged by the forest-colouring on my map and the direction of the sun that I could take a short-cut in this direction.
Like I said, some mistakes you should only make once.
After going through a bit of forest, hearing water, deciding it should lead close to the gardens, I climbed down the near-vertical forest hill by climbing from tree to tree, and after like half an hour and some nice pics, came down to the water. Following it and I came to a waterfall. A waterfall, how nice.
After 10-15 of climbing around it (I think I spotted some rare mushrooms), continued along the stream...another fucking waterfall.
So this continued for an hour or two, and it started to become dark. And then it was dark, and I still wasn't out of the forest of the stream. I stopped taking pictures a while ago though. Luckily I was in phone contact with my friend in Auckland. When I came to point where cows come to drink, I had a choice. After some struggles with finding out in which direction the moon is (East, where the town is), decided to keep following the stream, until I came to the biggest waterfall yet, with the deepest pool and the hardest to climb walls. Went back, went up where the cows seemed to go (master-climbers, these cows!), lost track, decided to climb straight down..until I found myself over the pool/falls again, went back. Crossed the stream once more, and after a bit more of climbing came to a farmstead. Decided not to bother them, since the town seemed nearby. After getting to the next farmsteadI started to change my mind: there was a group of cows that ran up hill, stared at me, then ran a bit closer, kept staring. Decided to climb over the fence again, and knock at the closest house.
After walking around the tennis-court I rang the bell: "Excuse me sir, sorry for bothering and tresspassing on your land, but I was lost. Can you show me the way to the town?"
"Are you here alone?"
After he ascertained where I stayed (other side of the city), he offered to bring me. The wife didn't let me leave without some vitamin water and a banana. And so I finally came back to the hostel, where I hadn't really checked in yet, at 21.45.
Took the following day as another rest day in Whangarei 😊
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