Camp Paradise

Paradise exists and it's here on earth.

It lies at the junction of the the Mangapa River and the Mangapukahukau Stream in the heart of the Omahuta Forest, the third and final barrier to the fleshpots of Kerikeri.

It is easier to find than to pronounce and you'll have to wade through the stream for four kilometres to get there.

However, after you have the found the cunningly hidden trail at the end of the stream, scrambled up a watercourse and splashed across a long shoal of smooth pebbles, you'll climb a few steps onto a level little promontory.

And then you'll do what I did and make an instant decision to camp here and lighten your load for a night.

There, you'll be surrounded on three sides by a deep pool. Opposite, the stream you followed spills down a small watercourse, Above you are steep wooded hills, their tops glowing green and gold in the westering sun. Down where you are dusk is already falling, shadows turning blue. There are trees just the right distance apart to sling a hammock, plenty of fresh clear water and a level area for cooking. Below is a small sandy beach.

It really is paradise and when I found it, I had the sense to stay.

After a meal, I sat by the pool and let the forest darken around me.

The moon rose and transformed the woods into monotone shades of black and grey, tipped with silver.

A million stars glistened on the waters, alive on the slight ripples.

The stream murmured and chuckled. Occasionally, the sound of a rolling pebble fooled my hearing into thinking someone had spoken or laughed.

At those moments, my senses came on high alert and I listened before relaxing again, smiling at the deception.

Midnight passed before I turned in to my hammock to sleep. In terms of walking, it had been an easy day, perhaps only ten kilometres after a morning spent on "field repairs". However, I needed an easy day and there are many ways to find peace on this trail.

Here in paradise, deep in nature's therapy room, I found peace or perhaps, it found me.

This trail is full of gifts.