Tuesday 13 August
Old Kaipara Rd to Puhoi (17 km)
Very early in the morning, Marius drove us to Warkworth. On the back seat, the kids were in thrall to their ipods. Hannah was hermetically sealed off from the world with her earphones booming death metal in her head. Etienne was tapping away on his screen. Oh what a beautiful morning it was: golden, slanting light, fiercely green fields and placid sheep. And wobbly little lambs! Lambs do terrible things to my sanity; I am a martyr to my impulses. “Look at that adorable wittle wamb!” I oozed in a high-pitched baby voice. “Isn’t it wuvable? And it’s got such baggy legs and a sweet wittle tail!” Without lifting his eyes from his ipod, Etienne, mimicking my voice, said: “And it’s going to eat lots and grow big and then it’ll get gobbled aaaall up!”
We were dropped at the humiliating place where we lost the plot on July 30. In this photo, Hannah is standing at the farm road we were meant to take on the left. The tragically unobtrusive trail sign is on the right, at about 3 o’clock.
We followed the track through farms and native bush, heading up Moir’s Hill and then down through Dunn’s Bush to Saleyards Rd in Puhoi. I had a song beating in my head all day. Usually, getting a song on the brain is a bit like trying to flush half a mouldy sandwich down the loo. It just keeps bobbing back to the surface. Last time the mouldy sandwich was “Shaddap you face”. Ewww. But today the song was a goodie: Mindy Gledhill’s gentle and beautiful “All about your heart”. “I don’t mind your odd behavior / It’s the very thing I savor / If you were an ice cream flavor / You would be my favorite one .… Oh, I´ve loved you from the start / In every single way …. Believe me when I say / It’s not about your scars / It’s all about your heart.“ Listeners bring their own frame of reference to song interpretation; for me this song is what a mother wants to say to a treasured child overcoming self-harm.
I love Kiwi sculptures. Artists do wonderful things with corrugated iron and repurposed scrap. Today we saw this quirky bird in a farm garden. We also encountered this postbox, which looks like it might be Big Ears’ upgraded retirement home in a desirable lifestyle block.
As we descended Moir’s Hill, we had our first feral wildlife encounter. For some time we had seen cloven hoof prints in the mud and speculated as to whether these were from goats or pigs. Since I have never seen feral NZ pigs, I was curious to know if they resemble the wild boars Asterix and Obelix prefer for num-nums. There was rather a lot of freshly turned earth near the track, and that indicated pigs’ rooting. Suddenly, from behind a gorse bush, came a loud noise: something like the vulgar love child of a snore and a groan, with a light belching overlay. “Goats!” exclaimed Hannah. “That’s not a goat, it’s a pig!” I quavered. “No. Goats over there,” she said. “No. A pig over here,” I insisted. We were both right. Ahead, a herd of black goats bounded soundlessly away but there was clearly something hidden and petulantly piggy immediately on our left. “Aren’t we going to try to see it?” I asked Hannah’s back as she marched away. I followed her very smartly. If either of us were injured we couldn’t continue the walk and raise funds for mental health recovery. Well, that’s our noble story, and we’re sticking to it, OK?
In Puhoi, the trail stops. One may kayak downriver to resume walking in the Wenderholm section. Marius is determined we shall do the kayaking option. Hmmm. We are not gifted in any way with boating. When the weather is warmer, however, I might consider drifting the distance while clinging elegantly to a pink pool noodle. Watch this space.