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  • Writer's pictureDermot O'Brien

Day 15. Nov. 19th. Helena Bay to Whananaki. 24km.

Another day, another diversion. Landowners had closed the Morepork-Onekainga track, meaning an 18km road diversion. The first bit up from Helena Bay along Helena Ridge was through forest and farmland, slippery from the overnight rain. Passed the 300km mark.

I kept hearing the occasional beat from the distant rave still going on at the Farm. Didn’t know what it was at the time and I fancifully imagined being pursued through the bush by that convoy from Mad Max:Fury Road. Not at all spending too much time in my own head 😊.

On the gravel road down from the ridge, I met a cool very fit looking guy on a mountain bike with a full Santa beard. Turns out he is 71 and cycles the TA every couple of years. Fastest time was 21 days. Decided to hitch the final road section and got to Whananaki at lunchtime.

Quite a few TAs there at the Whananaki holiday park, including the Jai tramily (Jai, Stacey, Ren and Maureen) who I’d not seen since before Kerikeri. Indeed the one and only time I’ve walked with others during the day was with the Jai tramily so was nice to hang out. Jai is the youngest of the group but does all the planning. Was a lovely sunny evening.

A beautiful horse sauntered by in the unfenced open space down by the river. Someone whistled and the horse beckoned. Sun glistened on the longest footbridge in the southern hemisphere. Not a great sleep as a rowdy group had a drunken late night close by.

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