Part 5 of Bob Kennedy’s Te Araroa Trail blog. Bob started his Te Araroa Trail walk at Cape Reinga in November 2010, a year before it was officially opened.
Te Araroa – The Long Pathway – Part 5
2nd December and the birthday of our eldest. It is a date that Benda and I celebrate by dining out, usually.
I am 30 km from Ahipara with one more scheduled overnight at Waipapakauri.
Surely I could walk another 30 km day, avoid another night under silky thin fabric and fine dine with my partner. The only problem would be to reschedule the pick up for a day early.
I set off too early to be rude to the other guests and used the track that runs parallel to the beach. This was built at the time of establishing the Aupouri Forest and I was able to avoid back tracking to the Hukatere Road entry to the beach.
After a period of solitude it dawned on me that I was not where I was expected to be. Should a snuffling pig pull me down rescue could be a long time coming.
I exited to the beach at Coal Creek just past Six Truck Road. 9:00 AM, time for sunblock and the last of my extra thick spicy fruit bread with honey. It looked a bit tired but who cares.
I am down to one seagull when I retrieve two shells for the women in my life, on the birthday. I can hear skylarks but they are hard to see.
I am having to avoid the spume left by the receding tide, the big bubbles reflect the sunlight with colours of the rainbow but it is very slippery underfoot. I had visions of slipping on a flat sandy beach and landing under 20 kg of pack.
There have been a number of puffer fish left stranded on the sand, and not all the sand is hard. One soon learns to find the harder sand or walk in the wheel tracks where it is at least partially compacted.
The spray off the waves makes visibility limited at times and it can even look like rain coming. I was quick to put on my pack cover to avoid getting my gear wet. Nutter.
It was 10:00 AM before I saw anybody else, and there was just the one bus going north today. The others will return down the beach this afternoon.
I galloped past Waipapakauri at 11:00 AM determined to get to Ahipara today and the closer I got the more people, some trying to get kites to take the fishing lines offshore in a fluky breeze too light for the job.
Three kids seeking thrills on the beach roared up and back on quad bikes. One 20-something male out in front standing up, full throttle followed by his female friends, seated at least. Families of shellfish gathers completed the picture.
2:23 PM the last pee stop on the beach, last of the water and at 3:00 PM it was 48,660 clicks and up the very soft sandy ramp to Ahipara.
For most of the day I was out of cellphone range for calls, but did manage to get a text away, the first line of which said happy birthday. The remainder was not read by the recipient, the bit about getting picked up early. But I did get a reply, same to u.
A second text gave me little more assurance about being picked up, so just as soon as I was in range I rang the motel and got the reassurance that our car was at the unit.
At least Brenda was not out of town on the last day of her holiday. She has more to tell about the call, but I did get picked up and we ate out. I was back in civilisation.
The following day I walked the section to the top of the Herekino saddle to avoid a road walk starting the next section, should I decide to return and continue.
In the meantime Brenda sat on the beach at Ahipara to witness the jubilant arrival of the school party. All ends well.
I have the maps if you want to walk.