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27/12/2004



The jandals have created as many problems as they have solved. Now I have blisters on the balls of my feet as well as the heels. I have decided to head for a motor camp near Russell - Orongo Bay Holiday Park, and to take some time out to get my feet night.

So it is back into my shoes for a quiet 10km to my new base, firstly to Opua and then across the vehicle ferry to Okiato for the final 5km to Orongo Bay. It was a beautiful day at last, blue skies and a gentle breeze to take away most of the heat.

Because my feet are so miserable I went to the shoe shop in Paihai. While there I got talking to a customer who turned out to be Rosemary Tarlton who along with husband Kelly owned the boat I mentioned yesterday and set up the under water attraction on Tamaki Drive in Auckland. Rosemary was kind enough to invite me to stay once I reach Auckland.

I walked down to the end of the beach and decided to stop for a coke and to paddle in the surf for a while. I was not sure where the walking track to Opua started so I asked the shopkeeper if there was a walking track. He looked at me, looked out the window and then told me that on a warm day like this he didn≠t think it would be possible to walk that far. I figured I would find the track if I kept looking.

The track started immediately after I crossed a bridge across a small stream the sign informed me that the Paihai-Opua walkway was 4.2km and would take 60 minutes to walk. It is a lovely walkway, at times cut into the cliff face behind the Pohutakawa trees which are in full flower at this time of the year, and at other times following the beach. I stopped often and met lots of people to talk to. Sometimes there were para-sails towed behind boats, helicopters, kayaks or sailboats to watch passing. After a while I reached another signpost, which informed me that Opua was 2 hours away and Paihai was now 1.5 hours behind me. They really need to work on a more coordinated signage effort because the third sign I reached claimed that Opua was an hour away and Paihia was now 1.5 hours behind me.

Eventually I came around the last headland before Opua and was taken by a grand old two-storied house with a faded red roof. It looked like an old boarding house or bar. I rested on the beach near the wharves and watched the two ferries plying their way backwards and forwards. For a long time I talked to Enid Cottee who had recently done the Round the Lake cycle race on a tandem with her husband Bruce. It turned out that they lived in the house that I had admired earlier so I was lucky enough to be invited back for a look. An incredible old building that had arrived by barge and is now split into four residences. The Cottee≠s section was lovely and Bruce had crafted a natural timber coffee table that had the voids filled with clear resin and encased wetas and shells.

Eventually with aching feet I inched my way towards the ferry and then made my way by road to the camp. An English couple and their two children who are currently applying for residency immediately adopted me - they get my vote for permanent residency. They gave me a hot meal and we talked into the evening. Phil and Helen are setting up a new English Pub in Te Rau which I am sure will be very successful. They have two great kids, the boy Grady is eight and he showed me the metal detector he got for Christmas and his glow stick when it was dark enough. He was even polite enough to listen to some of my stories. Their daughter is a toddler of eighteen months and is very cute, eats loads of chippies and exclaims "ohhh" whenever she makes a new discovery.

 
 
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