After days of the beach we were looking forward to an easy day – 14kms along roads to Kaitaia. We walked through more of the best farmland ever, all rolling hills covered in lush vegetation.

We left about the same time as two young guys and kept them in sight for most of the day, so we felt impressed with our pace.

When we reached Kataia we realised the Pack n Save (supermarket) was a few kms off the trail, so we took the kids to the library with the plan to go shopping and then continue on to a campsite. A woman at the park with a bunch of kids stopped to chat to us, gave us so local tips and wished us well – people here are so open and friendly. We saw her again at the library and she offered us a lift to the Pack n Save – yes please!

But in the meantime the librarian had come over to ask for a photo of the odd family doing the Te Araroa. We posed for that, tired and scraggly, threw together a quick shopping list and took off.

We found out our lovely lift-giver was out with the kids as part of homeschooling group. Yay for homeschoolers!

We did a huge shop for the next 6 days (Pack n Save is awesome), puzzling over just how much milk powder, peanut butter and dried fruit we’d need – not enough and we’d go hungry, too much and we’d have to carry it.

Then disaster struck – halfway through the cheick out I realised that in the rush to get ready for our lift I hadn’t brought a card. It was 3kms away and we had no way of paying for our food!

The lovely staff put our trolley aside for us, apart from some rolls and cheese (luckily I had some money stashed) and we decided to hitch back. Only problem is no-one stopped to pick us up so we actually walked the 3kms.

When we got back to the library we ended up deciding to find somewhere to stay – everyone was tired, we were disorganised, and we wanted to send some stuff home. It’s amazing how carrying something for 100kms makes you realise you don’t need it that much.

There were no campgrounds or caravan parks, and the cheapest place the incredibly helpful lady at the info centre could find was $230 a night. We kept trying and eventually found the showground took self-contained vehicles, so I phoned them and begged – they said yes. And it was right next to the library!

It was now all systems go to get set up – while Forrest and I walked back to Pack n Save Daniel and the others set up our home for two nights.

A taxi was definitely needed to carry 6 days of food for 7 people. As we waited to get picked up I saw a hiker sitting on the ground stuffing his face with food – which is pretty much what’s heppening when we’re not walking. We got talking to Berkal from Poland and I offered him a seat in the taxi because the showground was right on the trail. Him and Forrest talked barefoot hiking and sunburn in the backseat.

The husband was a bit surprised to see a strange guy climbing out of our taxi and asked if I was going to make a habit of picking up young foreign men. Berkal seemed a bit tempted to stay at the showground but continued on.

The next day was technically a rest day, but we spent it culling our stuff ruthlessly and sending home everything non-essential. We sent home over 8kgs of gear and took a bit to the op-shop – stuff that seemed like it would be fun, like the violin and bows and arrows, hadn’t been used and weren’t worth the effort!

The kids organised all of our rations and we booked a taxi for the next morning (the 5kms of highway is too dangerous to walk) and spent the rest of the day at the library, reading, doing puzzles, and in Gabrielle’s case doing a phone interview about the trail.

From this….
…to this.

Now we’re much more organised – bring on the forests!