Labour Weekend - Thursday 20 October 2016 to Monday 24 October 2016 (5 days)
Fourteen of us rendezvoued at Paua, approximately 15km from Te Kao, late Friday morning and were ferried across the Parengarenga Harbour to a sheltered bay on the north side of Ngatehe Point. The size of the boat meant we crossed the harbour in three groups. The first group to land was given an enthusiastic reception by two big strong pig dogs. Once the party was collected together we set off to tramp to the beach on the north side of the harbour channel. Our plan was to tramp as far up the beach as possible, and then climb over the headland of Ohao Point and regain the beach south of Otu Hill. The dogs followed us to our lunch spot at the start of the climb where an attempt was made to send them home but only one dog (reluctantly) left us, his mate preferred to stay with the human pack.
Vegetation in this area of Northland is largely manuka scrub and hakea, both twisted by the wind and together make a very effective barrier to travel. We had to push our way through getting thoroughly scratched in the process - enough blood was shed to supply a transfusion ward. The women were heard muttering about the need to wear long pants and sleeves to work on Tuesday to hide the damage... the dog had no such problems.
|sheltered by the branches of the pohutukawa with great views of the white sands of the Parengarenga|
Back on the beach, the group soon arrived at our camp site at the Ngakenge stream. Feral horses were seen in the dunes above the beach. The tents were spread along the stream with five pitched under the branches of two very large and spreading pohutukawa trees on the beach front. The trees had multiple twisted trunks and looked to be of a great age.
The dog accompanied a few of the group for a walk to the rocks at the end of the beach and on the way he was seen to race off to catch and eat a small animal - possibly a possum or rabbit.
Saturday was similar to Friday in that we headed into the scrub but this time on a clay, 4-wheel drive road in reasonable condition. We followed this for about 1.5km then headed east on another track which dropped down to the south end of Whareana Bay. We walked along the white sand to the north end of the beach and lunch before another climb up and over a headland. The dog was beginning to endear itself to the pack and pieces of lunch began to be proffered and were gulped in a flash - Anthony was the man of the moment with his beef jerky chunks.
Terry had done some pre-trip research and found on a satellite photo a track not shown on our maps. This track was located and then followed to Waikuku Beach with the dog leading the pack. We reached the beach to find the fresh skeleton of a young baleen whale - the skull resembled a mediaeval mask ...
|Waikuku beach from the headland|
At the northern end of Waikuku beach, DoC has erected an electric fence that stretches across the peninsula to Tom Bowling Bay. North of the fence is the North Cape Scientific Reserve from which the public are excluded as the reserve contains unique flora and fauna some of which is only found in the area of the Serville Cliffs and the fence serves to keep possums , feral horses, cattle, and pigs out. Our camp was near the fence on the banks of the Te Kanakana stream which had a good flow of clear water, the best of the trip (at our other campsites, some of us thought it prudent to treat the water as it flowed from nearby swamps).
The dog was now part of the group and get tasty treats from everyone - Ian imaginatively named him.... Dog. We met a few locals each day but none recognised him or knew who his owner was; one fisherman actually stopped at the campsite to ask us if we had lost a dog!
On Sunday we followed a vehicle track to Tom Bowling Bay crossing Waikuku flat en route which is officially a ‘tombola’ (sand deposited by ocean currents to form a spit of land between an island and mainland - in this case, the island of North Cape to the Aupouri Peninsula). At the bay, Ian found amusement by turning a cast off fishing net float from the ‘Emerald Isle’ into a football once Tony had tested his bowling skills with it...
|coconut in camp – a rare addition to a tramping dinner – Anthony, Rob, Trish, Ian|
A coconut washed up on the beach provided even more entertainment and Ian happily set to de-husking it while walking along the rather tedious 4-wheel drive road south - the road paralleled the coast but was about 2-3km inland. Dog was starting to tire; more nibbles and water perked him up at lunchtime but by the time we reached camp he was worn out, moving stiffly and limping. However, he ate well at dinner - beef jerky and chilli chicken from Anthony; excess lasagne from Trish; fish and rice from Anna - and by morning and a share of breakfasts, he was restored to life. The de-husked coconut was tapped for its juice and then split open but unfortunately the juice was very thick and strong while the meat was lacking in taste - obviously well past its ‘best by’ date from its travels across the sea. However, the shell was put to good use as Dog’s dinner bowl.
We speculated on the country of origin of the coconut and while it is possible that it could have floated from South America via the South Pacific Gyre current, we had to admit that it was more likely that the origin was Fiji or one of the other Pacific Islands.
|morning tea with a view....|
On Monday we broke camp at 8am to meet our boat pick-up at 11am which was a few km tramp away.
Dog stayed with us until 500m from home when he set up a pig and was last seen disappearing into the bush in hot pursuit - never giving us the chance to say goodbye to our delightful companion. At the beach we met Dog’s owners who told us his real name was Trigger. They had not been concerned by his absence and thought that a pig had got the better of him....we hope that that the one on Monday did not...
It was an excellent tramp in every respect and a big ‘thank you’ to Tony for his organisation. Dog’s companions were : Anthony; Keith; Terry; Kay; Sharon; Chris, Grace and Freya; Rob and Trish; Tony and Hazel; Anna and Ian (scribe)