3 October 2016
Today's the day! The night was long and a bit disturbed, I slept better than Warren but both of us pretty excited about starting this journey. Maybe also a little anxious about what's ahead.
We have had a lovely two days trip from Tauranga to Cape Reinga with Kath and Peter. We stopped in Auckland at the BP on the Northern Motorway and had a great catch-up with Craig, Tony, Quinn and Dylan. K and P's son Dane and his wife also met us there so we got to meet some of each other's family.
Saturday night we stopped at Roger and Anne Cann's in Whangarei for a fabulous dinner and great company and then Sunday we drove through the rain, and thunder and lightening through Kerikeri wondering what the weather had in store for us from now on. By Maunaganui the sun had come out and we stopped for the compulsory fish and chips and as we pulled in Peter noticed the rear outer tyre was flat. A quick visit from the AA and we were off again.
We arrived at Cape Reinga about 5pm, checked out the view from the top car park and then settled into the Tapotupotu DOC camp ground where we pitched our tent for the first time this trip.
The rain had gone, the skies were blue and the stars came out in full.
Today we headed out from camp at 0815 but with taking time out for photography at the light house we have missed the chance to scramble around the first rocky outcrop onto Te Werahi Beach as the tide is just too high. We knew we were pushing it but enthusiasm and the need to get going got us here early. We will sit back here in the sun and gentle breeze til the tide has turned which will be about 4 hours I expect.
We managed to scramble around the rocks at 1pm and set off for Twilight Beach arriving at the camp on the Southern end. We've had the best day! The weather has been great and the scenery stunning. The sand dunes, the beach, the blue water and white waves, the scrubby grassy sections were all more than we expected. We met up with other TA walkers and the walking community is growing with American, South Korean, English, Irish, and kiwis. All of us decked out in the same uniform, Marino tops, shorts, boots or walking shoes, walking poles and new packs, and all wrapped up in a ton of enthusiasm and excitement. We have had a fabulous first day with bodies still in tact.
We woke to find the cooker not working. No porridge today or even a cuppa. So we left Twilight beach at 8am and climbed 4 kms over the Scott Point which was a bit of a climb first thing in the morning through some mud puddles (unavoidable wet shoes) and then down a series of steep stairs to the beach. No I didn't count them but wished I had by the time we reached the last one. Then we were officially on Ninety Mile Beach. Yahoo!
There started the long walk. Today we pushed on to the Bluff Point camp arriving a bit tired and foot sore at about 5pm. We walked around looking for the camp, finally finding it a little further around the corner. No blisters! We just got the tent set up and had a hot dinner after Warren realised he hadn't screwed the cooker cylinder on tight enough this morning, when the rain started. Lucky us.
Today was all beach walking. All 30kms off it. The rain settled early in the night and although it was a bit windy overnight we slept pretty well. We set off at 8am and walked until midday when the tide was high and the walking on the sand became too soft to be easy. We stopped on the beach and before long we were joined by another couple doing the same as us, taking a rest to have a bite of lunch and waiting for the tide to turn. As it happened all 4 of us fell asleep on the sand and the tide woke us up lapping at our feet and packs.
The afternoon walking was great, good rhythm with the music playing on our iPods. We arrived to Hukatere at 5pm to find K and P waiting for us with a lovely dinner. Warren has a blister.
After breakfast with K and P we bundled up the tent and reloaded our packs mindful of the weather closing in and the rain looming. With tender feet and tired backs this is getting harder but we knew it would hurt for the first few weeks. So Warren has a nasty big blister on each heel and so today we only planned to walk 17 kms to Waipapakauiri. As we headed off this morning the heavens opened. The rain pelted us from behind as the wind was really strong blowing the sand onto our backs at about 40 kms (that's our calculated guess). It wasn't too cold and as the morning drew to a close the sun came out.
We have stopped tonight in Waipapakauri at a Holiday Park in a cabin with a shower. We will put the feet up for the afternoon and all going well we will head off for Ahipara tomorrow, weather and blistered heels permitting.
The trail is fabulous so far, already it's better than we had imagined. The slow pace lets you watch the birds, say hello to the odd seal, sing along to the music and get into a really nice walking rhythm that just slowly picks off the distance. Even through the rain the walk was good but thank goodness we were going the same way as the wind. I think it would be sole destroying walking into weather like that