2011-2012 has been an emotional 12 months for us

We became kiwi citizens. Our kids, Ben and Beth survived the Christchurch earthquakes. I lost my mum and brother, Brian, to cancer in the same week. We sold our outdoor activity business in Hanmer Springs that we had run for ten years. We ran the Forest Camp as managers and we will celebrate 30 years of marriage.

It has been a time of intense emotions and hard work but a great network of friends and family has supported us.

Losing Brian at the age of 60 has convinced me that we have to “live life for today”. With that in mind Steve and I have decided that the best way to celebrate surviving, being kiwis and the “life of Brian” is to walk the length of New Zealand. Now here is the irony, Brian would be convinced that we are finally, totally and unreservedly barking mad!

Thanks to Ben and Beth for their support to let us go, to Sharon and Serge our Hanmer backstops and to Shalane for inspiration.

Follow us on our journey – meet us on the way with tea and scones, walk a section with us, join us for a beer or just support our cause and donate to Cancer research!

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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Across Auckland and the Hunuas!
We said a fond farewell to Penny and Frank - thanks for all your support guys! Across on the Devonport ferry to walk the Coast to Coast! A great walk across the city through Parks, over extinct volcanoes to the summit of Mt Eden which for once we shared with swarms of tour bus visitors. The views of the city were amazing - what a diverse walk the Te Araroa is.
 We crossed over to West Coast over the old Onehunga bridge and through to the Ambury Regional Park - a reclaimed haven for birds and shellfish. Past the Stone fields and the airport for a very noisy section on the road but a great finish to the day at the Botanical gardens.
A thankfully dry river crossing in the Hunuas.
The next day was our earliest start yet at 5.45am but only to miss the AKL traffic with our drop off. So we made it to Clevedon before lunch which is a charming little village nestled in the foothills of the Hunuas.
Through the Hunuas passing 3 reservoirs, Aucklands water supply. Reminded us of the reservoirs in the Peak District in UK. ( Don't worry not getting homesick!!) Through the Hunuas on a range of benched, gnarly, unfrequented tracks that were yet again a challenge. By no means a stroll in the Regional Park! 
Many thanks to Jill at Twilight Hill for her drop offs support and donation.
We made it through drained farmalnd and very curious dairy herds and onto SH 1 and Mercer where we were greeted by the Yellow Towers of McDonalds and a motorway service area!!. Another Te Araroa experience. Looking forward to Waikato river and onto Hamilton. 700kms done.......2300 to go. Yee ha.
For all you geographers out there we came across an Archimedes Screw yesterday so there is a little bit of homework for you!!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

We have been blown away by the very generous donation of $2000 to Cancer research by Mr Ashton, his son was my brothers best friend and he too has lost friends and family to cancer. This is a great boost to us and an affirmation of our journey. 

With Graeme and Sandy at Pakiri.

We woke to dawn over Pakiri beach and then headed off over Tamahunga Mountain, the track was opened in 2001 by Sir Edmund Hilary. We had stunning views and it was a slip slide down to the Omaha Valley. The next day was through the Dome Forest, fondly renamed as Mt Doom. No it wasn't that bad, just very muddy. Thankfully the tearoom at the end was still open to lift our spirits and help us on our way to Moirs Hill. We descended into The Puhoi Valley and stopped for a rest at the Cheese factory, it was very difficult to set off again, but worth it.

Puhoi is an awesome spot with the historic pub , store and library and a River Kayak Company that hire out Kayaks to you for the next leg of the journey. We were blown down the river, thank goodness it was a tail wind and across the estuary to Wenderholm - 7kms later. A great feeling to have gained the distance with no leg power!!
The next section from Waiwera to Orewa needed to be walked at low tide, so we had to spend 3 hours waiting for the tide to drop at the Hot pools and had a leg massage, it was so so good. It was then a scoot across the sand and rocks to Orewa and Roger from Herikino picked us up and took us back to his son's house for the night. Thanks guys for that.We had an early start the next day to get to Gunter and Jan for a boat ride across the estuary before they set off for a weekend trip on their boat. Many thanks you guys, what a great support to the Te Araroa you are.It was then down the coast towards civilisation and the North Shore walk. (Just another thanks to Charles and Chico who gave us a lift at the end of a day - good luck with the Queen Charlotte.)
Sadly we had a bad day of weather for the North Shore Walk but we were happy to duck into a cafe or two to get out of the rain. We are staying with Frank and Penny in Devonport for a couple of nights and finally discovering Auckland. Their hospitality and generosity is overwhelming, cheers.

In Devonport, Auckland in sight!

Monday, 15 October 2012

The phrase "How do you eat an elephant" has been in our minds! One bite or step at a time. I think we have finally come to terms with the fact that we are not as young as we were and being in our fifties our bodies are taking longer to adjust to the daily tramping than we thought. So we have had a two day break at Pakiri Camp with Graeme and Sandy Ruth who we used to work with in Hanmer. It is a beautiful spot beside the sea and the weather has eased off.
We have had an awesome journey to get here from Tidesong on the Taihururu Estuary. Thanks to Sam Palmer's Uncle Chris and Donna for looking after us and organising for us to stay at the Ocean Beach Life Saving Club after we had walked over the Kauri Mountain and along the stunning Ocean Beach. The next day was another steep gnarly track over the Whangarei Heads, it was a 7km track and took 5 hours to walk!! At the end we went off down for a swim at Smugglers Cove which was refreshing to say the least.
The next day in the Te Araroa notes tells you to hitch a ride across the Bay with fishermen. That seemed a bit too risky for us Brodies, so we organised a trip with a guy who crosses everyday, unfortunately he forgot about us !! So we went to the marina and waited for the fishermen and literally hitched a ride!! The guys were a bit reluctant at first but ended up taking us right into the new Marsden Cove marina. We were off route a bit so thanks to Hope from the Marina cafe who took us to the start of the beach walk.
The walk along the beach was magic, the weather was beautiful and the river crossing was not deep so we pressed on to Waipu - the town with Scottish connections and their own highland games. We were overwhelmed at the pub when a lady who had seen our charity sign gave us a $10 note and wished us well. We have heard so many stories of families affected by cancer, it is such a huge issue.
Crossing the Pakiri Estuary
To avoid a closed track we walked to Waipu Cove which is a surfers haven and then up and over Mangawhai Heads - a stunning track along the ridge and down to the beach. We continued on to Riverside camp ground and a warm welcome from Maree, who on hearing our story donated a night in a caravan to the cause - Many thanks guys.
The bad weather hit us the next day and the only saving grace was that the wind and rain was directly behind us and we virtually flew along the beach over Te Aria bluff and onto Pakiri. At lunch time we had a wonderful text from Sandy to tell us she was cooking a roast and a big pudding and to keep smiling !!!
About 2 km from the campsite the sun came out and Steve suggested we took off our wet weather gear, however I was too tired to do it and he had to do it for me - I had hit the wall!!
We have had a well earned rest here with Graeme and Sandy and a night of luxury in one of their beach front units. Again thanks guys for all your help it has been great catching up.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

We have reached 350 kms and $650 so we are feeling very pleased but weary !! A day off today thanks to the generous hospitality of Sam's Uncle's family - Chris, Donna and Jess. It has been quite a while since we were last with internet!
Old Grizzly Beardy in the tent!
We walked through the Waitangi Forest and were very pleased to be joined by Sally and Rob (a Dutch backpacker), it was great to be spurred along and have others to talk to. Thanks to Peter for being shuttle bunny. We had great views of the coast at last and easy tracks to walk.
Through civilisation, past Paihia and onto Opua to the car ferry , a beautiful day for crossing and a walk along to Orongo Bay to a great campground surrounded by kiwis. After a long walk along the road we got to the Russell Forest and a tough walk up through the magnificent forest, past all the Kauris onto the ridge. A long undulating ridge that seemd to only go up!! Finally we met an old logging  track which was great to walk on and a gradual descent down to the road. Sadly the second part of the forest is closed and we hitched onto Oakura to have a night at the campground. What a beautiful spot, we will have to go back.
Liz and Terry gave us a lift back to our end spot the day before and sent us on our way with homemade fruit cake - what a treat. We walked on to Helena Bay and Steve had his first swim, or should we say dip in the ocean, too cold for me !!
Another bypass day and a walk around to Whananaki North. Well done to the Whangarei District Council for the paths and signs for the Te Araroa. The estuary path was stunning. We had a wonderful night at the campground and especially enjoyed Happy Hour with Pat and Liz and all the campervan folk.
The walk from Whananki North to Ngunguru has to be one of our favourite so far 24k but a stunning day of views, beaches, forests and streams.
We collapsed at the Salt Air cafe for a great pizza ( Steve had an all day breakfast at 6pm !!) where the guy told us he had had a few Te Araroa walkers through but we were definitely the oldest !!. We took it as a compliment !!
Sally and Maureen joined us today from Kerikeri - thanks guys, it was awesome to have company and a shuttle bunny. The Mackerel Forest track was wonderful and the river crossings not too deep. On we went to Tidesong - what a beautiful haven nestled on the estuary. Thanks to Ros and Hugh for sharing their family birthday with us and firing up the pizza oven.
We were rowed across the estuary by Hugh - a great new boardwalk has been constructed to help with this and onto Taihararua.