December 3rd 2016
Cape Reinga – Twilight beach camp
7.6 miles
Total distance 7.6 miles

I woke and had my first shower since San Diego. I was feeling pretty gross and I wanted to feel semi-decent to start the trail! Sue cooked up a wonderful breakfast and we made sandwiches to take with us and she gifted us a giant bar of Cadbury. Yes!

After the difficulties with their car yesterday Shannon very kindly offered to drive us up to Cape Reinga, a 2-3 hour drive, which was super kind of her. So along with Sue we set off to the start of the trail. The scenery was just stunning and it got better and better as we drove north. So many cows, and finally we got to see some of the sheep that there are so many of on the island. I wanted to keep staring out of the window but my eyes became so heavy I couldn’t keep them open and nodded off for a bit. When I woke up it was time to stop for ice cream. Result. They have a flavour here called Hokey Pokey, which is flavoured with bits of honeycomb and it is delicious. Well worth the stop on the way up.

When we are arrived at the parking area for the Cape we were initially struck with how cold it was. As we were layering up a lady comes and asks us if we are Te Araroa hikers. She had brought a Dutch hiker up to start the trail today too.

We headed down to the lighthouse and the official start of the trail, we said our goodbyes to Shannon and Sue, and along with Marvin I can’t thank them enough for everything they have done for us to get us here. So kind and so generous. Down at the lighthouse it was busy with people. Lots of Japanese tourists and a bunch of English people. It was nice to hear some English accents at the hostel but I’m a bit over it now!

We have our photo shoot, eat our sandwiches and head back the way we came to find the trail at about 1:30. We go down the cliff, the views are out of this world. It’s tough not to stop every 2 steps to take a photo, and onto the beach. We climb over the rocks and it’s here where we see how important waiting for the tides are. This area wouldn’t be passable at high tide. But we catch up to Simon, the man from Holland, and walk along the beach with him.

I still can’t believe I’m here and I can’t believe how beautiful it is or how perfect the weather is. As soon as we descended down onto the beach it got hot but with a cooling wind. Perfect weather to burn in. I didn’t put any sun cream on in America, but it’s a whole different ball game here. The sun is intense and I’m so grateful to have a base tan. Even so, I’m using factor 50 because there is absolutely no shade in these first few days. I’m also wearing sunglasses which I haven’t worn since Washington. The sunglasses I had were crap and I wasn’t inclined to wear them. But here the sun is extra bright and I’m so glad to have a pair. They also give the most amazing colour and brightness to things. I feel like I am walking around with my own Instagram filter!

After some pleasant beach walking we cross a small stream running along the beach and I get my feet wet. The we head up towards the dunes to pass the Cape Maria Van Diemen. It just managed to get more and more beautiful. The uphills were steep and sandy, the deep sand was difficult but not too bad. I felt the top of my head getting too much sun and it was time for the bandana to be added to my highly fashion conscious look.

After the dunes we were back on Twilight beach and before long we were at Twilight camp. A steep staircase up the cliff from the beach leads you to it. In the middle was a pavilion with a great hexagonal picnic table and places to sit and cook. And most importantly, water. We all, along with Simon, decided to call it a day here. We had only walked for 3 hours and only done 7.6 miles, but it was the first day and we wanted to enjoy the camp site. After some snacks we headed back down the stairs to the beach. Julia and Simon went for a swim in the ocean and Kristen and I dipped our feet and had a stroll about.

We made dinner which for me was the broccoli I had now had in my pack for 3 days. I nearly threw it away at Sue and Marvin’s because it was stinking out my pack but I’m glad I carried it because that along with some rice noodles was very tasty. We ate. Pitched our tents and then headed back down to the beach again to watch the sun set. I took my apple, (my apple!), down to the beach. That’s fruit and veg I’ve had today!

We (ok not me, they) saw someone walking down the beach. Another hiker? They were so far away they were a tiny spec moving along but we decided it was a hiker. So all 4 of us stood in a row watching this person make their way closer. As she got closer we all waved and made the situation even more awkward! We walked towards her and found out she was ‘Virginia from Alaska’. She went up to sort out her camp and then she came down to watch the sun set with us. And I don’t want to bang on about how great my sunglasses are, but they really did raise the sunset to another level. Better than real life and better than Instagram!

The sun set at 8:29. So much light! It’s not cold as such but it is pretty windy. The clouds look unpredictable so the flys are on our tents. I crawl into my sleeping bag and get cosy. I feel really hungry, despite all the food I’ve managed to eat today. So I eat chocolate, biscuits and I break in to the cheese and eat 3 slices. I have a few super itchy bumps on my legs so I pop an antihistamine to stop the intense itching. I had carried these tablets all the way along the PCT and I only used about 2. But it looks like they will come in handy here!

I struggle to keep my eyes open. Such an awesome day. Really spectacular.


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