No pictures again, because I’m chronically incapable of remembering to charge the batteries on my camera, and I left the charger in Wellington. Well done me. I’m in Auckland briefly, house-sitting for my sister and looking after her myriad pets. She’s back now, with only one pet fewer than before, so I thought I’d spend a couple of days on easily accessible Te Araroa stretches. I could have done it earlier, but I would have had to take the sister’s dogs, and they’re just too annoying to walk with – always getting underfoot.
I started at Onehunga Bay Lagoon, where I finished the Coast to Coast last I was walking in Auckland, and wandered round over the little old Mangere Bridge. Only pedestrians and cyclists are permitted here now, and the local fishermen take advantage of a good spot – I think several of them had a few fishing rods each!
On down to Ambury Regional Park, where I deviated from the trail a bit. TA here goes through some paddocks filled with farm animals, but because it’s spring and the paddocks are filled with calves and lambs, the fences were decked out with big signs saying, essentially, “It’s Family Time – please do not disturb the animals”. So I didn’t, and kept to the park pathways instead.
Getting on to what TA calls the Mangere Foreshore Track, but which also seems to go by the name Watercare Coastal Walkway, I made my way along the coast past the lagoon and the treatment plant and down past Oruarangi Creek to the Otuatua Stonefields, and it was here everything turned to custard. I am not an experienced track-maker, in fact I’ve never made so much as a metre of walking track in my life. Yet neophyte as I am, there seem to be two simple rules that are oft ignored. Rule One: if the track suddenly stops in the middle of nowhere, you need a sign. Rule Two: if there is a fork in the track, you need a sign. This isn’t rocket science. Ignore these rules at your peril, unless you wish to stumble across a third: OJ’s Rule of Ambiguous Tramping, which states that on any unmarked fork, the tramper will invariably take the wrong one.
And so I did. I got hopelessly, horribly lost in a great overgrown section, and eventually followed my nose uphill into farmland, to try and get my bearings. Found a farmhouse, with a lovely, helpful couple (and Woody, the world’s most disobedient dog, who happily followed me for nigh on a kilometre while its owners tried to get it to return home) who sent me the right way. I’d way overshot, and gone too far… but what do you expect with unmarked tracks and OJ’s Rule of Ambiguous Tramping?
Eventually I made my way down Ihumatao Road, and turned off to the airport shopping centre. Technically this last bit was half of the next section, the Auckland Airport Road Walk, which is about as exciting as it sounds. I’ll do the other half tomorrow, weather permitting.