December 6th 2016
Hukatere – Ahipara
Total distance: 62.9 miles
Despite not drinking a lot and feeling pretty dehydrated I still had to get up twice in the night to wee. But I’m glad I did because the stars were incredible.
I didn’t realise we had arranged to leave at 5:30 this morning, so I didn’t get up until 5:20 as I thought we were leaving at 6. Oops. Oh well, not too much of a problem. Everything was covered in condensation and my tent was soaking. My sleeping bag was damp and everything just felt a bit damp. The sand is nice and easy to brush off when it’s dry but it’s a total pain when it’s wet. We started walking, and unlike the other mornings there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It’s going to be super hot today. We had 19 miles to get to Ahipara so we decided to take breaks at the 8 and 12 mile marks. It’s really weird walking along knowing there are millions of TuaTua just under the sand.
We walk into the sunrise and play silly games to pass the time and ease the boredom of walking along a beach for the fourth day. There is no water in this section so we all chugged a load before we left which meant we were peeing every 20 minutes. There is nowhere to go on the beach so we just all stopped and faced different directions. There were some tour busses going up the beach and they honked and waved, we think one might have caught us peeing but hey ho!
We take our first break while there is still shade by the dunes. It really is feeling like a struggle today. It’s difficult to will the body to put one foot in front of the other when it’s screaming at you to stop. People, including myself, assume walking on the flat is easy but it really isn’t when you have to walk 60 miles of it. We were all hurting in different places, my thighs were bearing the brunt whereas julia was having calf trouble. We all have blisters. I think it must be from the sand in our shoes. I have put a blister plaster over the one on my heel to attempt some damage limitation. It’s not really a blister yet but it hurts every time I put my foot down. And I feel like something is beginning on my little toe.
Over the next 6 miles we plug ourselves in to alleviate some of the boredom and try to make the time pass. I have started using my trekking poles to help maintain a rhythm. As the sun got higher it got hotter and hotter. After 12 miles we stopped and squeezed ourselves into the only tiny patch of shade there was, almost upright lying against the sand dunes. We had a good 45 minute break. I managed not to fall asleep. I ate my leftover pasta from last night and my crisps, and I had avocado and flatbreads earlier. I’m having a good food day today.
With 7 more miles to do and town in sight we push on. After some more games to pass the time we plug ourselves in again and power on to Ahipara. By now my legs have really had enough, it’s just relentless. At first Ahipara doesn’t seem to be getting any closer but eventually we seem to be getting nearer which is good for the mental battle. I find myself out in front for a change and I meet a guy on the beach who tells me where I can find the hostel. What I didn’t know at the time was this man was to become an awesome trail angel.
He offered to drive us to the hostel but we said we would walk, some of the walk is part of the trail. We said we were looking forward to a cold drink and an ice cream. We made our way up the beach and towards the boat ramp. The sand was soft and deep and it was so hard to walk across. We thought ourselves lucky that the whole beach wasn’t like that. That would have been really brutal. The guy (who we later found out is called Willie) offered us a cold drink at his house which was on the way to the hostel so we said yes to that! He was so nice, gave us fresh oranges and orange juice, and it was lovely and cold. We had a great chat with him and thanked him for his kindness. We needed to get to the hostel to get our chores done as it was now nearly 3pm. He offered to drive our packs to the hostel while we walked there and said he would wait at the hostel with our packs until we got there. It was a risk to do that but thankfully it turned out ok. He had already done more than enough for us but he then offered to make dinner for us! Wow. Ok!
We bought a YHA membership which will hopefully come in handy later down the line. We chose to camp, although there are a number of options here. It’s a really lovely place, a great place to hang out, really clean, fresh and well maintained. Must be because of all the Germans they seem to have working there! We needed to dry out our kit so set it up and then we had time for showers, although I didn’t have any soap so it was more of a rinse rather than a wash. There was a huge skylight in the shower block and the sun was beating down through it, I was more sweaty in the shower than I had been in the last 4 days! It was nice to get the sand off. I rinsed my bandana, socks and top in the sink. I’m not sure that it was of any benefit. There were washing machines but we didn’t really have time. It’s so hot I put my wet top back on so it will dry.
We notice a couple of hikers have arrived, a guy from the US and a guy from Sweden. The severely burnt American from yesterday also arrives. He is still severely burnt, probably even more so, but he is also still remarkably uncommunicative.
We head over to Willies house for dinner and he had put on quite a spread. He has set the picnic table with a table cloth and had thoughtfully put up a shield from the sun. It was so nice to sit at a table and eat dinner outside with a knife and fork. Willie made TuaTua fritters, fish, potatoes, salad and beetroot. It was honestly the best thing I had eaten in months. So tasty and so fresh. It really was delicious. I even said yes to a glass of wine! We had such a lovely time talking to Willie and finding out more about him. He even had some ice cream for us for desert. He wouldn’t let us help him clear up so we went back to the hostel, very full and very happy. What a lovely man.
We hang out in the communal area for a bit battling with the internet. By 9:30pm I hadn’t even set up inside my tent. I throw everything in, nothing in it’s usual place. I’m all discombobulated. It’s really warm and I’m too hot. I’m also very tired and trying to write this is very difficult as my eyes are so heavy!
I am so glad the beach is over. On to road walks and muddy forest. We have also been told there is rain in the forecast.
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.