Te Araroa day 18 – a day of two halves 

December 20th 2016
Possible camping – 107 Govan Wilson Road
17.9 miles
Total distance: 303.8

It was a pleasant night next to our logging operation. Nice soft ground and no condensation. We struggled to get up as we are so sore in the mornings. A superhuman effort is required just to lift our bodies off our sleeping mats and standing up is even harder. 

We aimed for a 6:30 start and started walking at 7. The tiredness is overwhelming. Only 4 more days until a Christmas break. Only half a mile of dirt road brought us onto the beach. 10 miles of beach walk. A little uphill through deep squashy sand filled our shoes with sand before we even got to the beach. We kept our shoes on today because 10 miles is too much to do barefoot. At 7:30 the sun was intense and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky to start with. 

After a few miles we came off the beach and went up and over Te Arai point and then back down onto the beach. A completely deserted beach. The tide was low so we were able to walk on the more compact sand which was nice. We had a lot of birds (black with a bright orange beak and orange eyes) squawking at us. I think they must be nesting and protecting their eggs. Normally the birds run away from us but today these birds were running at us. 

We had heard about two difficult water crossings today. A stream and a river which could both be armpit deep. Well the first one was nothing to concern ourselves with, it was ankle deep. We took our shoes off to cross and as we were sat down on the other side cleaning the sand off our feet a rogue wave came up. I managed to pick up my bag and shoes out the way and my poles and sit mat were floating. I managed to rescue everything but I hadn’t managed to do the crossing without getting a wet bum after all! 


We powered on down the beach. We saw some people on horses looking like they were having a very nice time, and a man with three dogs including 2 golden retrievers which we were very excited about. They came bounding up to us but stopped short and the man said the probably didn’t like our sticks. Very disappointing. 


I was becoming very tired of beach walking and I was longing to bend my knees which I get when walking on the flat for a long time. We began seeing signs of life and saw we were approaching the river crossing. It looked pretty deep! 

Julia went across with her sticks and shoes as the guinea pig and it was rib deep. The tide was still coming in so we had to get across quickly. I took my shoes and poles over and then we both went over with our bags held above our heads. I had been worried about the crossing for the whole beach walk but it turned out to be not that bad. The current was quite strong and we were glad we got across when we did before it got too high. There have been reports of armpit deep water and after that you have to wait out the tide. Not something we wanted to do. 


As we were wet up to our ribs we decided getting more wet didn’t matter so we stripped our tops off and ran into the water. It felt so good! We messed around for about 15 minutes, even in that time the water had become noticeably higher. We rung out our wet stuff and made our way to the holiday park which was only about 100m away, Kristen was waiting for us there. 


For a day use fee of NZ$5 we could hang out in the common room, charge our electronics, dry our clothes, take a shower and keep out the sun for a bit. Perfect. It was great to have a shower to wash all the salt off, but I didn’t have any soap so I didn’t really feel that clean. I did manage to get rid of a few layers of skin though! We got soda and ice cream from the little shop and relaxed on the common room in nice comfy chairs. I nodded off for a bit until I woke myself up with one of those full body jolts. 

We ended up staying there for 4 hours which was a nice break. The people at the holiday camp were really nice to us, told us we were very sensible for waiting our the heat of the day and wished us luck on our trip. We hiked out at 3:30pm and of course it was still really hot. 


A short walk on a dirt road brought us to the start of the Tamahanga track in the Omaha forest. It was very steep up through the grassy fields and the sun made it very sweaty going. Julia and I were tired from our 10 mile beach walk this morning. We plodded on, stopping briefly to enjoy the views looking back to where we had come from this morning, it seems like such a long way away! The trail continued on up through the forest and became a bit muddy in places, and a bit rocky with some bits where you had to use the trees for leverage. Lots of hazards around, tree roots, gorse bushes, lots of things to slip and trip on. 


Once we reached the top we had a little lie down in the shade but couldn’t stay long, we had to get down the other side. It was even steeper than on the way up and the further down we got the musket it became, I got one foot stuck on a tree root and the other foot slid down the side of the hill making me do the splits, which is something I can’t do. I dropped my poles for fear of snapping them and tried to right myself. All seemed ok but I have concerns that there are going to be some sore parts in the morning. The trail became quite precarious in parts and I was really glad it wasn’t wet or raining because it would have been quite lethal, but that’s all part of the fun. 


I had mud on my face and all over my legs and I managed to get some on my arms too when I finally made it out the forest. It was a full body workout for the last mile or so, I’m sure I will feel it tomorrow. Our final mile of the day was a tiny bit of paved road and then a dirt road walk to a trail angel at 107 Govan Wilson Road. Matt has a sign outside his house welcoming TA walkers. We walked up to the house and rang the bell and we were greeted by a giraffe and a zebra (correction: snow tiger) decorating their Christmas tree. 

For NZ$15 Matt provides a place to camp, a welcoming beer / soda, a shower and tea or coffee in the morning. The snow tiger came and took our drinks order and we sat and chatted with Matt for a while, he’s a busy man, 3 jobs, 4 kids and a wife to look after! And he has time to look after hikers too. I was getting very cold after being so sweaty all afternoon so I went to take my second shower of the day! And this time it was with soap. It was so nice wash off all the mud and to feel clean and warm. I don’t have a towel but my bandana had been doing a very good job so I don’t think I’ll bother getting one. 


I finally lay in my tent and curl up in my sleeping bag. My whole body hurts, but that is just my life now. It’s far too late when I finish writing this, 22:38! So far past my bedtime. 3 more days of walking. I can do this. 

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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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