It’s a jungle out there!

I’ve just emerged from the forests of the Far North, dirty, tired, sore and not quite smelling of roses…. It’s been an adventure!  I passed through the Herekino and Raetea Forests which were particularly rugged and dense.  There were some long 10-11 hour days, bashing our way through thick lush forest filled with long vines that constantly tried to wrap their tendrils around your foot or your pack.  The ground was a tangle of tree roots covered in slippery mud, and often very steep in places.  It was exhausting and claustrophobic being so wrapped in a dark forest for so long with the ferns and bushes high overhead and forcing you to push your way through.  I half expected to come across a family of mountain gorillas – if you can imagine David Attenborough bashing through a Rwandan forest with a machete-wielding guide, it was that kind of forest… (N.B.  the photo above was taken early in the day when I was blissfully unaware of the ordeal that lay ahead).
Following this, we headed into the Omahuta and Puketi Forests which saw us walking along the riverbed for around 7km.  It was a stunning walk with the river overhung with lush trees, ferns and palms.  The water was clear and swept lazily over a bed of pebbles – up to thigh deep in places. 
But it is the sporadic sections of road or gravel that are a real killer on the feet.  Carrying 18kg-ish with super stiff boots is extremely unforgiving.  My poor feet are unrecognisable to me now.  Feet swollen and fat (I’ve got ‘cankles’!), I was forced to purchase some walking runners today for the easier sections.
I’m currently having a rest day in Kerikeri and will continue on tomorrow to Ngunguru which will take about 5 days.
So 225km down, 2775km to go.  Apparently we’re about one-fifteenth of the way there which sounds much better!
bye for now

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