So off we go, my new friend and I; over the longest footbridge in the Southern Hemisphere (all 395m of it!). I have to say, the view along this coastline was spectacular. The day was sunny and still and the cliffs and coastline we were following looked out towards the Poor Knights and the vast Pacific ocean. The company was light and breezy and the topics of conversation ranged from deep and serious to borderline batty, where my dark jokes were returned with even darker funnier quips and silences were natural. I was hoping to catch up with Fletcher from Sustainable Coastlines for an "on the trail" interview, but alas the timing wasn't right so I put away my comb and mascara (jokes) and we carried on southward. We came into Matapouri - a place I used to romp around as a kid growing up in Australia, where my Uncle Eric and Aunt Margot had their bach. There were summers my family would go and explore the hills, the rock pools, feed the neighbourhood horses and get delicious NZ ice cream, so it was great to be back again. I convinced Matt (didn't need much effort for this) to step off trail to have an obligatory pie and coke at the dairy and have an explore. The Mermaid pools are a must on such a perfect day! Being a weekday (oh how lucky we were!) we had the place to ourselves - and it was the perfect cool down/clean off break we needed, and so worth the cliff scramble to get there.
On the way back we ran to my uncle's bach (which I found out recently he had built himself!), took photos and I had a little reminisce before we grabbed our packs from the dairy where we had left them and continued on our way. And then came the Matapouri bush track. Oh the Matapouri Forest.... I left a lot of shit behind here - I wailed (he talked with control) with the pain of our past relationships, we processed childhood experiences, belted out a few show tunes and went from strangers to an old bickering, teasing couple in the space of those 7 short Kms. I drew strength from the magnificent Kauri tree Tane Moana, and I fell in love a little - with him, and more deeply with myself. In the short amount of time I knew this man, I felt heard and understood more than I ever had. Was it the power of the forest? Who knows, but following bigfoot that day through the bush was pretty magical - I had let the trail in.
Next was Nguguru, after a long road section and emotionally taxing evening it was a relief to put the pack down and rest for the night. The next day we met with Bob? who's wife was one of the first to do the trail with him being support person. He directed us to a 'magic box' with a combination lock for TA hikers to help themselves to the contents~ We had all we needed so didn't make the short detour, but I thought that was lovely - a short distance on we stopped by the home of Hilton and Melva, trail angels who are active on the FB site, take in strays like us and are always there for advice for us newbies. It was great to chat, take a photo and finally meet the wonderful couple.
Road walking turned to the Forestry section of Mackerel forest and then back onto road. We were both feeling rather despondent by that stage - and between bouts of singing, arguing, dancing and laughing we we continued up the road separately towards Pataua North. And here we met with our next trail angles! The first car stopped, and a guy leaned out and asked if I wanted a cold Steinlager as I teared up and quivered a weak "yes". As I was enjoying that slice of heaven, the next car pulled up - Toni and Ross, what a sight for sore feet! They offered us a bed once we got to town, and as the sun was getting low I gratefully accepted. Here they showed us what pure kindness is: a hot shower, meal, beer, great conversation and a warm bed. They even showered us with snacks and the biggest breakfast anyone could ask for!
Our next trail angels came soon after at the base of Kauri Mountain track and the start of Ocean Beach. "You have any Maori in Ya?" "no... I'm half Japanese" "Ahhh - I knew there was something in Ya!" and so began the conversation which would lead us to our home for the night, with a night of entertainment, playing Gin (cards) late into the night with Colin, his son Chris and his grandkids, Harry, Ziggy and Lara.
After Oceans beach we scaled the Whangarei Heads and hit some horrendous weather - the word "bomb" comes to mind - and classic Shelley "oh, I don't need to put on my rain jacket"... we slithered off the mountain, a couple of drowned rats and found shelter, a lunch room AND a dryer in the local toilet block!
Our next mission was finding a way across the Whangarei Harbour. This was to be my terminus for this leg, but I was having way too much fun and we were ahead of schedule, so decided to try and rearrange a couple of appointments (my clients are so awesome!) and push on through to Pakiri. We came across Neil and Moira and her dad Ron in their front garden and with just the hint of a query as to how to go about crossing, they offer to take us across - refusing petrol money but graciously accepting our offer of coffee across the other side :) A beautiful beach walk followed which took us a little inland and back out onto the cliffs above Mangawhai Heads, where my friend was waiting to take me in. We were joined on the beach by Holly, a brave, worldly Tasmanian who was looking for a place to stay. "um, Aaron. You know how I said someone else was with me? Is there room for one... more...?" And Aaron graciously agreed on all three of us decending on his amazing studio/workshop/ home.
One more section to go, past the heartbreaking real estate developments gouging its mark on the historical and ecological significance of Te Arai Beach, a bit of swimming and heartracing cliff jumping at Te Arai point then leaving Holly soaking in the sun, Matt and I headed down Pakiri Beach. More rubbish picking upping, more chats, more laughs till we came to an awaiting mum and dog and a car ride to reality, home.
This leg has been hard to write about - so much emotion and vulnerability, and though it's a nice place to explore of my psyche, it's also not a place I need to dwell in too much; But it definitely gave me a good dose of what this journey has in store.
Matt: the British Army Infantry section commander responsible for weapons and tactics training who couldn't navigate himself out of a paper bag, hahaha! Who carried hair gel and electric trimmers and a whole bunch of heavily laminated trail-notes that some Italian in Paihia had dunked in the spa and made partially illegible, this Matt kept me entertained from Whananaki, over the Whangarei heads and down to Pakiri beach where I reluctantly stepped off trail to get back to work, and it is this Matt I have to thank for putting up with my emotional purging <though he caused a fair amount of it himself :P> The decision to walk my own walk and not follow him south was tough and bitter-sweet, but it felt right as I released bigfoot back into the wild to get lost, wet and whinge his way south alone.
Km: 308 - 477km Fellow TA Hiker sightings: 3! Two German girls on the way to Hilton and Melva's, and Holly the Tasmanian at Mangawhai Heads. Tumble count: Don't remember any award winners~ Number of cries: Bahahaha! Loads, what a cry baby ;)
Kg of rubbish picked up: at least 5kg - with the gallant help of Matt we picked up everything from bags, shoes, crates, rope and we dragged it all off Ocean Beach and Pakiri Beach. Drop off points were: Ocean Beach rd - outside an unsuspecting resident's house... (next to their rubbish for pick up). Mangawhai Heads township Pakiri Beach - the bin outside the campgrounds
Homes for the night: Day 16: Nguguru - oh the respite for the tired soul! Day 17: Lovely Toni and Ross at Pataua North Day 18: A caravan just by Oceans Beach, with the crack up kids Day 19: Freedom camping on Bream Bay - what a place~ Day 20: Found an unoccupied plot with shelter and flat grass "turn your head torch off, we'll get caught!" Whinging pom pipes up... Day 21: Great food - Crumbed chicken and pasta! Fun night at Aaron's, a ride to and from the trail and some well earned beer~ Day 22 (half day): Home wistful home.
Food Highlights: A toss up between the Tom Yum soup with Udon noodles, capsicum, fresh broccoli and tinned baby corn (thai) and the sweet chilli Snapper (fish) curry on mash.
General Highlights: The people and their amazing kindnesses the boat ride across the Whangarei harbour! Waking up and skinny-dipping to the sunrise at Bream Heads The solo swim at Ocean's beach - a moment of reflection :) My newly found friendship in Matt
General Lowlights: Narrowly missing an Orca pod sighting in the Whangarei harbour Almost drowning in the Ruakaka River! (but then being rescued by a kayaker) - no, we were fine, we were headed to a big detour after attempting the ford and getting up to our chins (bags on heads) before deciding to turn back. Kayaker saved us an extra 7km thank goodness! Leaving the trail
Song predominantly in my head: Colours of the Wind, from Pocahontas - which still makes me ball my eyes out when I listen to it!
Things I learned:
Sucking on leaves helps when you've run out of water, but don't suck on manuka leaves, you just get a mouth full of nutty vegetation instead.
I'm not cool enough. I sent a friend request to Harry on Facebook so I could tag him in a photo I had taken. A 16 year old with 1,623 friends (seriously?!) I am still waiting with bated breath to be accepted >_< Ahahahahaha!
It's ok to wholeheartedly say YES! - with my Japanese upbringing, and a fair amount of Kiwi mixed in, I usually refuse the initial kindnesses of others -"Oh, I couldn't Possibly!" and wait patiently for the second or third offer.... Toni and Ross taught me that kindness is a gift you should savour and accept with humility and gratitude the first time round :)
Cliffs and the water below are not my friends. It took me forever to jump a modest cliff into the sea below, but I did it. I'm more of a scardy-cat than I thought.
Number of days with wet feet: ALL Weather: on and OFF! haha, but the storm atop Whangarei Heads woke us up! Body: feeling good, albeit a little fatigued Spirit: soaring Questions unanswered: Will Te Araroa make me stronger or drive me crazy? I'm looking forward to seeing which one!
Back on the trail, solo and on a beautiful part of Northland! Paihia to Opua was a majestic part of coast that had beach walking, rock hopping, boardwalks and stunning views. Opua wharf was also the place I had come with my mum and Gran 6 years earlier to scatter part of my Grandfather's ashes - a special place I was glad to visit on my walk of the country.
From Opua I had the choice of getting a $100 boat ride across the Waikare connection or taking the $1 vehicle ferry and walking the connection adding 24+ km to an already hefty bit of walking... Now, $99 can get me a lot of powdered mash and beer, so went with the vehicle ferry and what ensued was 24+ km of extra walking... Something I had to motivate me was a certain Brit who I knew, from chats on Facebook, was a few hours ahead. Now, damn him - this is where my decision not to hitch any part of this walk (the official trail) was solidified. A car pulled up into a driveway and I was running low on water so I asked if I could fill up - and he ran me up to the house to fill up my water bladder and he mentioned that he had come along side another walker, a brit full of tattoos earlier that day, and that he had offered him a ride but he had refused. He said he would have offered me a ride but knew I would refuse him too~ FML. Hahaha! So my fast crumbling resolve not to hitch (even this asshole extra waikare connection) was strengthened purely for pride.
The next day, after I had dried my tent from the rain in the night and had a lovely breakfast in the sun, I was feeling stronger, and soon entered into Russell forest. If you ignore the car graveyard leading up to it (If you're missing a car in northland, chances are its remains are there...) it is a magical forest and the trail follows up through beautiful bush, a stream and several waterholes.
Once out and back on the road I caught up with a farmer who was fine with me camping up and having the trail meal of my dreams behind an old dilapidated outhouse just as the sun was going down. Sleep came fast that night!
Day 15, I had a LONG day of road walking ahead - I had realised that the 'few hours ahead' walker was actually, after all my mermaid frolicking and Instagramming the the day before, now 20km ahead, so there dashed my dreams >_< so, I got comfortable and started trucking on. Running low on water again, I passed a house with its family outside - as the little girl handed me the bladder she asked if I was walking the length of New Zealand to lose weight. With feigned hurt I asked if she thought I needed to... ah, kids ey?
Now this next story will stay with me for the rest of my life - I was passing Mokau Marae, where there were some workmen, and in the field opposite was a horse that was standing by the fence, dead still except for the occasional kick of the hind leg. As I got closer I saw its leg was tightly wrapped around a loose piece of fencing. I know NOTHING about horses and jumping into an unknown paddock with an unknown horse was not on my to-do list that day... I got one of the workmen to help and with great gusto he lept into the paddock with me cowering behind him for protection. As he approached, he scared the poor animal to distraction so I thought the only way to solve it was for him to get some wire cutters. As he was away getting them I slowly approached the horse and I could see her eyes closely watching me. She let me come closer and soon I was stroking her and she started to lean on me a little, then started smelling me and then nibbling on my ear!! This was going to work! I slowly stroked down her body and though she hesitated at first, all the while watching me, she let me lean down and unwind the wire from her back leg - success! I was so touched that she would trust me like that; it was a special moment~
I was in my own little horse-saving, instagram taking bubble walking along the coast again, when I was invited in out of the rain by a farmer who let me have the last of his special Chinese green tea while he showed me round his old cow shed conversion and he told me stories of the area, his time owning the extensive valley farm and his days visiting his daughter and his rich in-laws in Japan. Having bade our goodbyes I realised I had gotten a message from Matt; the Brit had called it a day earlier that afternoon and was waiting: with BEER. Now, beer to me is like 'Chicken' to McFly and it suddenly boosted me to tackle this last 15km. Only this 15km was from sea-level to 260m (in the first two Kms) then into the challenging Morepork forest - described in the notes as DAYLIGHT ONLY track. It was 5pm. No worries! hahaha, and so began a 4hour run, scramble, tumble, updating Facebook experience into the darkness until I see a tall shadowy figure of the handsome Englishman. "just another 1km to go" he says as he drives away towards the camp once he guided me onto the road. (The campsite owner was worried about me so lent him her pick-up, which, OF COURSE, i refused to get in) 3km later I staggered into the campsite, cabin all organised, coins for the showers procured and hot food and cold beer waiting. Heaven.
Km: 244-308 Fellow TA walker sightings: One, with beer. Matt the Brit. Number of tumbles: pretty good until nightfall in the Morepork forest! Number of cries: Zero! Kg of rubbish I picked up: <1 but awkward. A bucket, few plastic bags and bits and pieces Drop off point: Paihia/Opua Beachside Holiday park
Homes for the night: Day13 (half day): rainy miserable night under grabby trees on a roadside hill Day 14: Just out of the Russell forest, in farmland behind a derelict outhouse! Day15: Whananaki North Holiday Park with Matt & Tom, the lovely heartbroken Manchurian
Food Highlight: Has to be the salami and canned chicken cantonese stir-fry with onion and capsicum (previously fresh and very heavy LOL) on udon noodles with black sesame and chilli sprinkles on day 14.
General Highlights: The horse! Having the whole of the Russell forest to myself, river wading in the dappled sunlight, skinny-dipping! Finding "Let's Go Butt! written for me on the ground by my new friend in front. Having a cold beer and cooked meal and hot shower waiting for me after having done a long 34km into the night/ having a hot Brit come to my rescue (though he got told in no uncertain terms I didn't NEED rescuing Bahaha!)
General Lowlights: Pretty good leg - though thinking I was lost in the Russell forest was disconcerting till I saw the magical orange triangle The last 4 kms of day 15 lasted foreeeeeevvver
Things I learned: With just me as company, I'm pretty fun to be around! Life on the trail is very simple: it's all about the trail, where to sleep for the night, what to eat and where to shit. After it rains a lot my fancy phone doesn't recognise my thumbprint
Number of days with wet feet: EVERY DAY~ but stream walking was fun :) Weather: Showers at all the inconvenient times! - After one particular heavy shower during the long Waikare section I was sopping wet and a pool cleaning truck drove past with the signage: getwet.co.nz. The universe having a right laugh! Body: I did it so long ago, I don't remember! But I think it was good. Spirit: High!
Question unanswered: All the roads have storm water drains or streams along side. All roads are littered with plastic from people tossing stuff out of their cars. How to stop the tossers?!
So Pete asked me what would be the tipping point- where I could say with confidence I would be able to finish this challenge~. I first said passing Auckland: so easy to stop, go back to the life I'm comfortable with. Then I said Queenstown. Nearly there, can't stop now! But during the traipse across the breadth of the country, over three forests and numerous mountain ranges, through rivers and through the muddiest quagmires I could have imagined- I think I've crossed that tipping point. The first 10 days they say, are the hardest: on the unprimed body, on the spirit. Just finishing the first 10 days- not even having done 10%, I'm sure I'll make it though to Bluff (not shit-house Bluff on Ninety Mile Beach folks, I mean the other end of the country Bluff :)) The only thing that concerns me is my timeline. I thought I gave myself plenty of time, but with work and family commitments in Auckland I'm going to find it a challenge to finish before the southern frosts come. I've got to admit, THIS has kept me up at night, but now not the mental or physical challenge of it.
Ah, the Northern forests: very corny, but I really feel I went in a girl (with prematurely greying hair) and came out a woman. The three forests: Herekino, Raekea and Puketi took me through a pretty amazing transformation: I now feel stronger and more confident than I ever have physically and mentally ready for anything.
I came across my very own, very first trail angel on day two of being solo~ my tent was wet and I had run out of water so hadn't had my usual hot porriage breakfast. Around lunchtime I came across the most idyllic stream, and grass bank with a few placid looking cows grazing. I jumped the obviously private property dividing fence and started to make myself at home- spreading my tent out and starting up my gas cooker~ then along comes a farmer... yikes! Now Wayne was the most wonderful human being: kind, concerned, generous. Meeting him and his Dog Zoe buoyed my spirits and gave me strength to carry on, full warm belly and dry tent! Onwards and upwards into my second forest: Raetea.
Solitude allowed me to explore my psyche a little: I felt like Dorothy and friends all rolled into one, walking though the silent forest recallibrating my heart, my brain and my courage in search for OZ... but it wasn't all serious! Next minute I was Super Mario jumping over fallen trees and collecting 1up mushrooms every time I saw an orange marker :)
After solitude came friendship in the name of Andres from Chile. My first Te Araroa met walking buddy! So I had met Andres with Pete on day one- he stumbled into Twilight beach campsite and settled there for the night while we carried on to the beach. We had expected to see him along the beach but didn't, so it was great to see him bowl passed me on day 5 :) He was a fast walker, but a very slow riser so for the next couple of days I would come across his campsite, say hello then he would pass me late I the afternoon. We soon decided to join forces and combine our weaknesses- slow to start in the morning then ALSO slow to walk. Bahahaha!! The section coming up was potentially a hairy one- wading though a stream where the track notes repeatedly screamed: "WARNING! Flash flood area!!" Having someone to joke with and tackle tricky navigation and river bank walking after the two days of alone time was great. But like many of the friendships I'll have on this trail, we walk our own walk, I step off trail and they carry on.
Zero day count: 1 on the 8th of September, the weather closed in and the southerly brought with it torrential rain. Best to watch mtv and relax at the backpackers at Ahipara instead! :P
Fellow Te Araroa walker sightings: 1 Andres, my partner in crime for this section (with the lingering presence of the half dozen walkers ahead of us ~ footsteps, sign-in books, heresay)
Number of Olympic gymnastic-worthy tumbles: 3 1. getting lost on my first day solo and doing the splits down the riverbank! 2. woah!! Falling down a mountain and bending a borrowed walking pole is not recommended! 3. super face plant in Raetea with Andres right behind me- I think I scared him more than myself 😅
Number of cries: 2 Farmer Wayne taking my hands and praying to God for my safety, offering me a place to stay and wishing me the best on my journey...and the wonderful Doggie cuddles from Zoe the dog :) The beauty of the forest and the intermingling feeling of freedom and solitude had me feel-good-balling, perched against a tree in the dappled sunlight :)
Kg of rubbish picked up: < 1 :) great to see hardly any rubbish in the bush. Though the roads and surrounding gutters were a different story... Drop off points were: Mungamuka Dairy Kerikeri
Homes for the night: Day 5: Bottom of mountain at Herekino: pretty wet and miserable Day 6: Middle of Raetea: magical Day 7: Farmland, with farmers blessing, having swum though the longest 4kms of endless mud Day 8: Getting hopelessly lost, ended up camping on a riverbank: dodgy! Day 9: Puketi Forest hut. FIREPLACE and electricity!! Day 10: Kerikeri Seasonal workers hostel Day 11: Mt Bledisloe "No Camping!" Lookout Day 12: There's no place like home xx
Food highlights: udon noodles with fresh stirfried red capsicum, chicken (from a can!), ham (leftovers baby!), ginger and teriyaki sauce and chilli flakes.
General Highlights: the forests were magical! cool off swim in Puketi Forest the feeling of invincibility doing it solo! (till the reality of the toughness of Raetea set in LOL) sunrise views from Mt Bledisloe
General Lowlights: the last never-ending, soul crushing 4kms of day 6 running out of water so no dinner or towel bath day 5
walking poles broken to date: 2
Song predominantly in my head: I am woman! Helen Reddy
Things I learned: I'm stronger than I gave myself credit for :) walking poles are invaluable. Thanks for the lend of yours Pete! Also I'd be much more beaten up without my gaiters. 1.5l is NOT enough water for two days in the forest.
Number of days with wet feet: all the days 😅 Weather: perfect Body: tweaked right hip, right knee and foot blister but generally getting stronger by the day Spirit: yaaaaaas! Questions unanswered: loads, but who cares?
So this was the day I had been waiting for: unlike the spirits of the departed heading North on their journey, my journey was taking me South. 3008km South, 141 map sections south, around 4 and a half months south (on and off). So with Pete, my friend and walking mate for this section and photos taken, I finally set off from the iconic lighthouse at Cape Reinga on the 4th of September, my 36th birthday and with us, as we walked down to the first bay, was Daniela and Darren who had dropped us off.
Now, with my humungous pack, and stuff hanging off me everywhere, the first thing to go was a cucumber. It fell from my pack somewhere between the carpark and the lighthouse. Now, this isn't the best start - especially as I'm trying to REDUCE rubbish, not create it...! Next to go was my camera - (now if you have been following the blog, a lot of thought had gone into this camera... >_<) it was just not an option; as I struggled down the manicured path towards the lighthouse with it dangling round my neck. So that went into the hands of my friends who were heading back in their car later in the day <Daniela also sporting an additional bit of bling on her hand on their way back to Auckland- as we find out DAYS LATER that Darren proposed to her once we headed off!! How wonderful is that?!?>
Now navigation was easy, just south along the beach right?! In saying that, most of the first day was not on a beach, but this part we were good at - I was introduced to the magical orange triangle with which (now at day 10) I am dearly fond of. We completed the first day in darkness and at the northern tip of the mighty beach.
The next few days were beach walking. Just this. At times interspersed with water collecting, eating and resting, moaning and dodging high-tide waves but mostly walking on the never-ending stretch of undeterminably long beach. It was wonderful though, the beginning of the journey, getting to know more about Pete and getting a handle on my walking poles and pack. Getting a handle on walking.
Now a funny incident I have to share - though it may be a little too much information for some... keep reading if you dare :D
So, first day of the trail - OF COURSE I get my period. No big deal, I have my menstrual cup <moon cup plug here, - pun... unintentional... they're awesome>. So we get to The Bluff, our camp site for day two, absolutely shattered, cold and with not much water to speak of. I deal with it. Next day was glorious, the sun was out, the water shimmering, and after a while of contemplating the situation: Pete was a platonic friend and all, I finally tell him I'm going for a swim (In my head: have a cleanse, have a cool down and empty this bloody thing out <sorry>). Well he's RIGHT there - to be fair he was quite some distance away, but I am now topless and needing to do my business, so do ask him to go further away?! NO. I just awkwardly try and time the waves and tell myself not to let go of the cup which is now in my hands. So what do I do?! the FIRST wave that hits me it slips out of my hands and into the ocean.... I scramble as only a flustered topless-trying-to-appear-calm woman can, but with no success. I give up the floundering and I come out of the water completely defeated... only to catch a glimpse of a huge white thing bowling past me - none other than the Great Sights tour bus! Bhahahahaha! I try and cover myself, but really, I'm beyond caring, so end up just waving to the surprised/amused tourists. The flashing of the bus aside, it's a bit of a disaster really - what am I going to do for the next couple of days?! I glumly get dried off and dressed, and because I sense Pete has noticed my sudden change in mood, I tell him and he takes it well, though like you, it's probably more information than he would have liked. We put our shoes on, which takes FOREVER with the sand everywhere, and get our packs on. Pete is busy doing something so I tell him I'm going to go down to the water on the off chance I spot the moon cup. There - about 20 meters away from where I entered and exited the water was something on the shore line. I start running and dive at it pack and all, just as a wave threatens to hit it - my moooooooon cup! After at least 10 minutes of searching and 20 minutes of getting ready it had landed itself calmly on the beach. There it is folks, miracles do happen :D Km: 0-104
Fellow Te Araroa walker sightings: 1 on the first day (not to be seen in this section again, but stay tuned) Andres from Chile
Number of Olympic gymnastic-worthy tumbles: 1 mud from head to toe: hilarious!
Number of cries: 3: 1x weird, out of the blue historical ex-boyfriend shit 1x seeing all the rubbish on the beach washed in from the sea 1x super touching moment with a curious fur-seal.
Kg of rubbish picked up:? Around 3-5 Drop off points were: Twilight beach campsite, The Buff Campsite Utea Camp Waipapakauri Campsite Ahipara Food highlights: Had to be the Tikka Masala on the first night, though the chicken freaked Pete out and I was eating it for the next day SOLID. I now no longer eat Tikka masala ;P and though not strictly food - COLD BEER on the 3rd night at Utere Camp/units. OMG
General Highlights: the perfect conditions of the beach on day two the swim minus the drama LOL Finding Utea campsite at Hukatere for that hot shower and cabin and BEER - thanks Pete!!
General Lowlights: The beach. LOL. jokes. It did stretch for miles, so not quite knowing where we were on said beach was a mental challenge. The Bluff campsite toilets. Shithouse. Nothing more can be said. And drinking out of a horse-trough Not seeing the wild horses! The plastic on the beach :(
Song predominantly in my head: 'These Boots are Made for Walking' Nancy Sinatra
Things I learned: I can run with a pack on: running from a wave. I can laugh: losing to this wave I can pee with a pack on: "le pack-on-pee" I'm good at the "yes/No" game and bad at "I spy"
Number of days with wet feet: ALL the days. Weather: Fine, turning to southerly gusts on the evenings of day three and four Body: blister forming under left arch, otherwise good to go! Spirit: Battered at times, but super keen, though did NOT want to learn the words to Ring of Fire, thanks Pete. Question unanswered: Did Darren and Daniela find my cucumber??
Tomorrow I walk, and the next day and the next. This is a 10 day stint from Cape Reinga in the north to Ahipara on the southern end of Ninety Mile Beach, where I leave my walking buddy Pete, and head into the notoriously steep and muddy northern forests toward Kerikeri and my terminus of this leg. My bag looks ridiculously big- making use of every square mm of my 65L pack-with Where's Wally style things hanging off every available strap on the sides.. mostly due to the food and water we need to carry for the 4days down the beach. I may need to reevaluate tomorrow with a clear set of eyes. I look like a ginormous turtle, and risk walking at that speed too... So much for being streamlined! I'm carrying around 5L of water with me as there is no established water source near the beach~ and if we miss the odd water source behind the dunes we'd be in trouble without it.
Tonight is the first night falling asleep to the roar of the Tasman, but the last in a while I'll have all the creature comforts... And wifi... And with the last day of being able to say I'm in my mid thirties, I just wanted to acknowledge all the help I've had getting here. First on my list has to be my wonderful mum... So supportive despite the worry I put her through! She must have read every blog out there about the TA (Te Araroa trail)... AND she's taking care of dog! Then there are the friends~ Darren and Daniela bringing me up, Pete walking the 100km beach section with me and all the words of support I've had, not to mention the donations to my causes!! I'm so grateful to all of you who have taken the time to be part of this with me. It fills me with joy ~ and determination as I head to the Cape and start point. Birthday champers drained :D time for some kip. Xx