The Treasure Island motor camp has a bakery onsite so I sat at a table under some trees and enjoyed hot bread, cold water and a newspaper. The sky was very overcast and both the clouds and the forecast threatened showers.
I decided to alter my proposed route today. My intention had been to go over Kauri Mount and along Ocean Beach before cutting back west to Whangarei Heads to look for a boat ride to Marsden Point. This would have involved about 30km of walking, 15 of which would be on roads. So instead I decided to walk directly to Whangarei Heads which is 15km on the road.
By the time I had packed up and started walking it was quickly turning into a beautiful day with a clear sky. I stopped at the office on the way out to pay the bill and post some mail. It turned out that the woman was related to Jimmy Joseph from Blenheim. Jimmy is a well known former Rugby rep down home.
The road walk was largely uneventful, traffic thundered by and the sun was merciless as it pursued me southeast towards Whangarei Heads. One car travelling in the opposite direction stopped and an occupant asked if I was the guy he had heard about who was walking the length of the country. That was nice.
Another time I was resting in the shade and got talking to a woman cyclist who was in training to ride through the Molesworth station (south of Blenheim) in March. In most places there was nowhere to walk but on the road itself. I find walking on chip seal very tough on the soles of my feet.
After about 3 hours I was sitting on the deck of a café on the corner of Whangarei Heads Road and Reotahi Bay Road enjoying a steak burger and a cold glass bottle of coke. I rested here for a while, chatting to a couple of groups of people, one of which had just climbed Mt Manaia which looked spectacular perched above us and crowed with rock pinnacles.
Well fed I headed down to Reotahi Bay to see if I could find some one willing to take me to Marsden Point in their boat. If Itian was down there with his sit upon kayak I would turn him down today. I only had to wait a moment before a white inflatable approached the beach. I raced down and made my request and was soon grabbing my pack to board for the trip of about 1km. The boat really honked! It had a 50 horse power motor in it and when Damon opened it up it nearly stood on its end. In no time at all I was standing by the Marsden Point oil refinery. Here I spoke for a few minutes to three lads who were preparing a long net to go fishing. They were interested to know what I was up to and I enjoyed chatting to them.
I set off in an easterly direction passing under a wharf that had two New Zealand flagged oil tankers tied up. There was what appeared to be a small spill, an event the locals assured me was extremely rare.
Before long I was headed south down the coast again. I was fascinated to see along the beach very clear divisions in the types of shells I was seeing. First all of them were small, flat spiral shells and then abruptly they stopped and it was just pipi shells. Later it went back to the spirals again.
I was walking down Bream Bay towards Ruakaka, my first landmark was the Marsden B Power Station. Fittingly enough this is a thickset, muscular looking structure which has been painted a dark green. There is some controversy at the moment over plans to modify it to run coal. Upon reaching Marsden B I stoped to ask some locals about crossing the Ruakaka River. Tony and Sheila not only gave me advice and directions but they also took me home and gave me cold juice and cake. I was advised against trying to cross, especially at high tide, and pointed towards the road bridge (and more road). Tony had worked at the Marsden A power station which had run for many years burning that part of the crude oil which we were then unable to refine here in New Zealand. I was interested to hear that Tony had worked as an electrical engineer in a nuclear power plant in England and had been one of eight people recruited in 1974 to work on a nuclear facility that was proposed for the Kaipara Habour.
Another 4-5 kms down the road I arrived at the Ruakaka Reserve Motor Camp where I was made to feel most welcome.
This boat provided a blindingly fast ride across to Marsden Point.