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??