Te Araroa day 3 – well, today was awesome 

December 5th 2016
Bluff campsite – Hukatere lodge
18.3 miles 
Total distance: 43.3 miles

After my numerous naps yesterday I had absolutely no trouble sleeping. I decided not to have the fly on my tent so I could see the stars. The one time I woke up in the night they were beautiful. I managed to hold my eyes open for about 5 seconds before going back to sleep. The risk we took was that everything was going to be damp because of condensation, and of course it was a bit, but nothing too bad. 

We packed up and hiked out early again at 6am in time for sunrise. And what a beautiful sunrise it was. The tide was low and the sand was still wet which created some beautiful reflections. 

As for the walking part of the day. It was long and tedious and looked exactly the same for the whole way! The clouds changed every now and then. It started off nice and cloudy and then it turned very hot, then our nice ocean breeze came back and it wasn’t so bad. I feel protected well enough from the sun. I have long sleeves and my hands and legs are already tanned. The only thing that’s suffering is the top of my head, but the bandana – even though it looks ridiculous – protects the top of my head. (I am also using factor 50 sunscreen on all exposed skin). Julia was out in front, probably maintaining a 4mph pace to my 3mph. My corn was hurting and I have a hot spot on my heel which I’m pretty sure is turning into a blister. My left shin and calf were hurting a little. You wouldn’t think it but this endless flat is so tough. We plugged ourselves into our devices and walked. At seven miles I was really ready to stop and take a break but that was going to be down to when Julia decided to stop. She stopped eventually at 9 miles, halfway done by 9am! I was glad to sit down and take my shoes off for a bit. 

Several tour buses passed us today, and in contrast to yesterday’s vehicles the buses tooted their horns and waved. One guy in a truck headed straight towards us and stopped to ask us if we were going to Hukatere lodge, he was the owner. Really nice guy. 

9 more miles to go. 

I am really in love with my sunglasses. Life through an Instagram filter is just so much better than real life! I’m not sure how I will cope without them! I stop to pee in the middle of the beach. You can see for miles in both directions if there is anyone coming. It got hotter and hotter and we took another small break half way in the only and smallest patch of shade we could find. I was driving myself mad all day because I had ‘here comes the sun, little darlin, here comes the sun, and I say, it’s alright’ going round and around in my head. 

My feet were really sore and I was completely ready to stop walking by the time we made it to Hukatere lodge at 1:30pm. At first it seems a bit of an odd place, there was no one about but there were a few signs up saying help yourself / feel at home. We spoke to some German dudes who were in what seemed to be a communal area and we were still none the wiser so we decided to sit outside and wait for Paul to return. We weren’t waiting long when a guy called Steven came over and spoke to us. He explained everything – we could camp for NZ$10 or stay in a cabin for NZ$15, take hot showers, fill our water and use the kitchen. He also said he would take any rubbish we had and get rid of it and he was going to the store so one of us could go with him. 

On hearing that news, my stomach let out a big growl as I feel like I have been permanently hungry for the last 3 days, and I proceeded to eat almost everything that I had left in my resupply now I knew I could buy more. Steven and I drove to the store where I picked up some stuff to make a communal dinner and some bits to eat tomorrow. Crisps, sweets and flatbreads to eat with my avocado. We saw some wild ponies on the way. We went via his house so he could do a few bits he needed to do, he gave me a big bag of blueberries and some avocados. On my return Simon and Virginia had made it. There is some quite serious sunburn going on amongst the group and some pretty big blisters. Kristen is winning the blister count with 3. 

I am also excited to see they have a cat. We sit about and have a chat, Kristen takes a shower but I don’t bother! Steven shows Simon how to cook Tuatua (a shellfish a lot like a mussel but I’m told they are sweeter). I don’t like mussels and they looked exactly the same but I did try one. I ate it. I can’t really say I enjoyed it. It just tasted like the sea smells. I tried another one. I still didn’t really like it. I don’t like the texture. Paul returns and so does his wife Tania. We ask her to pronounce the name of the trail but still none of us are very good at it. 

Steven suggest we could go and collect some more Tuatua from the beach and we all want to go. We walk a little way down the beach and stop at a log which has these very odd looking creatures on, then we go digging in the sand (has to be done at low tide). There are thousands of Tuatua and they are everywhere, just a couple of centimetres below the sand. Just plunge your hand into the sand and you come out with handfuls of them. They squirt water and that made me jump every time, I wasn’t keen when they had their ‘tongues’ stuck out either. We collected 3 bucketfuls of them and then carried them back to Hukatere. I carried one handle of the bucket for about 3 minutes and my arm was on fire. If my next challenge is going to involve my arms I will need to put some serious work in!

A cycle tourist, Ben from Germany, arrived. He was excited that he was the only German as they seem to be everywhere in New Zealand! After pitching our tents we set about cooking dinner. I am so pleased I am eating a decent meal tonight. We make pasta with mince, mushrooms and courgette with a tomato sauce. And we have enough for a lunch portion each for tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be such a good food day! We dance around the kitchen to Beyoncé and Mariah Carey and some other random music found in a random box. I discover the Canadians don’t know Chaka Kahn. What?! Not even ‘I’m every woman’?! 

Two more cycle tourists arrive. One form Aberistwyth and another from Yorkshire. And another walker, a guy Alex from the USA. He is the most sunburnt I’ve seen anyone. And either he is a little odd or he has heat stroke because he seemed a little spacey. 

Today had been so good. Full of fun and laughter, amazing hospitality, new experiences and new people. And a little bit of walking! 

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I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps. 

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