December 16th 2016
Nikau bay nature escape – Tidesong B&B
Total distance: 229.3 miles
For such a nice place we got a terrible nights sleep. Between us going to bed very late, the mosquitos buzzing around incessantly and Martin snoring incessantly we were awake a lot of the time. The mosquitos were terrible and when we tried to bury ourselves in our sleeping bags we overheated so there was no getting away from them. When Martin woke and told us he had only had about 45 minutes sleep we were all quick to correct him. I will not share a sleep space with him ever again!
We were so tired and so reluctant to get up, but Kristen and Martin had to pack up and be ready for James to take them down the road on his way to work. They were skipping some of the road walking, Kristen because of her knee and Martin I’ve no idea why. Lots of people can’t be bothered to road walk and hitchhike around it. Road walking is not my favourite thing (it hurts my joints and I feel like I’m risking my life the most because of the reckless way some people drive), but it’s part of the trail. It annoys me when people moan about the road walking because the TA trust have worked really hard to create a continuous footpath for people to walk on and unfortunately they have had to negotiate with lots of private land. And some people understandably don’t want trampers on their land because they leave their shit behind (literally) and their toilet paper and rubbish. People like James are approaching the TA to suggest the trail goes through his land, and he is also asking his neighbours to do the same.
So Julia and I are part of the very small percentage of people actually walking the whole trail. We pack up and head out onto the first 5 miles of dirt road. Dirt roads aren’t even like roads so I don’t know why people skip them. It was easy walking and a fairly quiet road, although the few people we did see were basically rally driving, sliding their cars around the corners.
We came to the turning for the mackerel track and the farm just opposite it had two llamas in their field. Not what you expect to see on a farm in NZ. The mackerel track was a nice wide, clear track. It was only 2.5 or so miles long but it was fairly steep in places with a couple of sheer uphill climbs. We crossed a couple of streams, but I stopped to take off my shoes each time because I didn’t want to walk all afternoon with wet shoes.
After a short while we joined a paved road and followed it for 9 miles. Today’s miles are somewhat frustrating because we do a 10 mile loop around the Horahora river just to gain half a mile of southward movement. I tried not to look at the map too much to remind me of it. Julia and I powered through the road walk, with Julia in the lead we maintained a 4mph pace and flew along. Again the road had no shoulder, very few cars but all of them travelling incredibly fast. Thankfully most of the cars passed wide if not slow. We stopped for a bit under a tree in the shade to eat some lunch and then carried on. We sang songs and tried to remember all the songs from Jagged Little Pill to pass the time.
Soon we were approaching another long footbridge. And when we got to the other side Kristen was there waiting for us. We spoke to a man who said he would give us a shower and a crayfish if we were around later. Nice offer but we had to move on. We got to the Tiaharuru river which has to be crossed at low tide and stepped out onto the sand. It was fine until we started completely sinking into the muddy sand. I took my shoes off and put on my little water shoes which almost got sucked off in the mud. We couldn’t find our way to Tidesong, a b&b that provides TA hikers with a place to camp and a boat ride over the river at high tide.
At one point we were all up among the mangroves and not enjoying it at all I was about to have a sense of humour failure and I was tired, hungry and just wanted to get off the beach as soon as possible. I gave Ros at the b&b a call to ask for help and she told me some landmarks to look out for. We hadn’t gone far enough to we went on through the shoe sucking mud.
We finally got there. We were give a hose to hose down our feet and legs and were then given juice and delicious homemade scones. We were the only ones there tonight but they have had over 200 pass through this year. We got the use of a cabin which has 2 beds in. It they added a mattress to the floor so we could all stay in there. I used the outdoor hot shower as I never had one yesterday, shovelled in some food and we were all in bed before 9pm.
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.