If you ever go to the north of North Island and love to explore your surroundings by walking, I would highly suggest Paihia-Opua-Russel track. Here is my story of it.
The track is well marked and is divided into few stages and each of them is on a different surface and asks for a various level of fitness, but if you are up for doing it all, be aware that parts of track is going through ups and downs, lot of stairs, so if your knees or ankles are not happy for that kind of exercise, better just take a ferry to Russel and enjoy it that way. And the ferry will take you only 20 minutes one way (it costs 13$ for a return trip).
I started my walk on the Paihia side with a walking meditation that I haven’t done for a long time, after an hour of listening to it I ended up laying down in a tiny dry corner of a hidden beach, looking through the branches into the sky and feeling all the rocks and shells under my back. Natures Shakti mat you know! After some breathing exercise, I continued the walk with an open mind and was ready to accept everything that the Universe puts in my way. To be mindful of all the coincidences that could appear.
And you know what, there were few turning points, where universe offered me the choice and it was up to me to use it or not, but without meditation that prepared me for the walk, some of the opportunities I would have missed out.
Part 1: The lady with the scared dog
We often show ourselves brave and ready to take adventurous decisions until we actually have to do an action. At that stage when we have to make the decision we often just jump in the bush and look to the option to pass by. This lovely lady had a morning walk with her dog, that seemed so cute but he (named Prince) was so anxious, so when I got closer to him, he jumped in the bush and walked around me so he wouldn’t have to interact with me, even you could see that he kind of wanted to get some cuddles. And then, where the path splits up, the lady asked me where I’m heading to and suggested to grab a coffee at “Marina Cafe” while being in Opua. Even if it was only 400m further than the place where I have to get on the ferry to Okiato, my first instinct was not to go there, because I have still a lot to walk. But for the next km, I had it on my mind – there is a reason why she suggested to me that cafe and as I promised myself to be mindful around the opportunities universe gives me, I was ready to find it. Few times I almost turned around as I wasn’t sure where exactly is it located and to be honest I forgot that simple name of it, but when I really was about to give up, I noticed a cafe and was sure – yup, I have to go there.
Part 2: Few times passing by Man
After one of the tastiest coffees I afterwards would have loved to have in a LARGE not MEDIUM sized cup, I headed back to the place where the ferry from Opua to Okiato should be located. On the way from the cafe, as it’s quite common in New Zealand, I exchanged “good mornings” with a man that was heading the same way as me. Guess what – after a while when I stopped and checked google maps for directions he again showed up and asked what I’m looking for and explained where to find the ferry I needed to get on. After struggling to find my 1 dollar coin and getting to know that could pay also with EFTPOS, I again met the same man on the ferry and it just seemed logical to start a chat. Mostly I was explaining about my travels in New Zealand and how much I love the nature here and our conversation lead to that he suggested me to get an Explore Group’s ferry (not a tour) to Urupukapuka Island and do a hike around it, as it costs only 50 dollars return and it is the best way how to see and explore Bay of Islands. We never know where one conversation will take you, what it will make you think about, realize, understand and put your focus on to. He put the seed of an idea in my mind, that I was working on for the next KMs of my walk to Russell.
Part 3: getting lost in the loud silence of the forest
I love how forest stops to breathe for the first seconds when you enter it and then it becomes so alive – bird songs, wind in the trees. Just breathe it in deeply. Especially when walking up and down, up and down on the steps. This was quite a challenging part of the walk, but I really enjoyed. Just remember – when you go step by step, you are training your legs. When going two steps at a time – you training your bum. Maybe that helps to survive it in a fun way. But if you feel that the walk is too easy for you, you are welcomed to do a good thing and help to carry buckets with gravel from one bucket depot to another. Good workout guaranteed. I managed to take one bucket but understood that I’m not prepared for it. You will see signs about it and each 50m there is next bucket depot, so I would encourage to do at least one while being on the track. A tiny reminder for me that even small acts of kindness matter and so often we already are on the same path with the opportunity of help, we just have to pick up that bucket of goodness and take few steps further, so it gets closer and closer to the place where it’s supposed to be.
Part 4: Final push for an amazing tomorrow
As I got to the finish in Russell, the weather started to throw some raindrops down on me from clouds and blow cold winds, so even I wanted to explore more, weather played a big role in my further decision to head back to my hostel and I can’t be more thankful for that. While eating my pre-made sandwiches, I missed one of the Great Sights ferries but shortly after that another one, called The happy ferry, arrived. And guess what – I loved it first of all because of the name, but second – because of people I had to meet on it. I had a really nice chat with the skipper and then his friend got on and we ended up talking about the way how to explore the Bay of Island, just because I had already the thought of walking around one of them as you know, but turns out the Otehei Bay Ferry operates only between 28th September 2019 – 19th April 2020, but I didn’t want to get a big group exploration tour. It just doesn’t have the charm I want to feel during the trip. And then there was this suggestion for Vigilant Yacht Charter trip. Though it seemed tricky, because of timing and my availability next day, as I got to get to the InterCity bus at 16.10 in Paihia (because I had bought ticket for 1$ and missing it would make my pocket cry) but sailing trip finishes in Russell at 15.30, I still had this “HECK YEAH” feeling and wrote to the company to make sure we could be back on time. Plus, wonderful thing is that ferries from Russell to Paihia are operating every 20 minutes, so all should be good. I just had to put trust in Universe that it hasn’t sorted out all these meetings and conversations today for nothing. I felt I will be taken care of also tomorrow and all will be well.
And then it happened. I made a booking. Invited to join me my roommate from the lovely Peppertree Backpacker’s lodge, and the next day we had the most amazing sailing trip and Bay of Islands experience.
And it wouldn’t have happened if I wouldn’t listen and paid attention to the small coincidences on my way. I know this was what was meant for me. And I enjoyed it to the fullest because it was another reminder to be present, notice and love the choices you are making.
I am and that is the best that has happened to me.
-> event organizer, community manager, social media content creator, writer, self-thought photographer, traveller, full-time happiness manager for myself and others
I’m exploring the world and myself through the travels and for now, I’m absorbing New Zealand’s beauty in combination with discovering more and more about the inner world of mine.