“What do you mean they don’t serve beer?” Expectation always precedes disappointment. And there was nothing for it, I needed a boat!
That was the story at trail-end after the first of four Clueless days on the Hokianga. I’d managed to recruit a few riders for this misadventure. There is always the incorruptible Horse (Dean Ogilvie), but the posse was joined by others. The Sarg’ (Glenn Martin), Craig Richardson, Diz (Dhiren) and Pete O’Kane. A mix of freshmen and veterans… Wheelmen all.
Within minutes of the trailhead we were grappling with fresh gravels through Opua forest west towards the Hokianga. Those were old well weathered trails. The desire lines and trading routes of Ngapuhi. Those were the very same trails that later served as the passage for missionaries, this time trading the word of god.
We journeyed the mission at Te Waimate, the battle pa of Ohaewai, the lake at Omapere and onward to the hot pies of Okaihau. Before dropping down into the warm Utakura river valley onward to Horeke and our first real glimpse of the old Hokianga. Our destination was the Horeke hotel… the oldest surviving public house in New Zealand. The only issue was it wasn’t!
It has become a boutique hotel for the day-rider and urban glampers. Definitely not the kind of place six blokes can casually roll up to unannounced for a feed of fish and a pint of the black stuff.
As expectation turned to disappointment, disappointment turned to desperation. And in an audacious act of cluelessness, I convinced our ferryman to send a rescue mission.
So we waited. Sitting in the tailings of late golden sun. While faint in the distance we could hear that rythmic slow chug of the Ranui. Oily waters slapping at its shallow draft as it slew its way upriver past the Mangungu Mission house and ever closer to our salvation.
Within the hour we were holed up with locals at the Kohu Kohu tavern. Quenching our thirsts and looking back westward down the trail. I was lost in that ideal. Daydreaming how this quiet resting harbour must have once been… crowned in kauri with it’s waters flush with flounder and mullet. That reminded me… It was time for supper.