February 11th 2017
possible camping – Island Bay
Total distance: 1073.5 miles
After a pretty bad nights sleep where I woke up every half hour, we started around 7:30 so we would get to Wellington, and the end of the North Island at a reasonable time. We made our way down and out of the forest and then had a bit of a road walk to the start of the climb to Mt Kaukau.
It was a nice climb but a bit of a slog for me because I’m so tired and my body hurts, but the track was nice and it was only super steep in a few places. Being a Saturday it was a popular place with locals and tourists it seems. We were rewarded with great views at the top looking over Wellington. It was weird to sit there and think we would be down there in just a few hours time, reaching the end of the North Island we started all those days ago. One of those bittersweet moments.
We had a brief break at the top before heading down and into the suburbs. We found a little town where we could us a public toilet and have a soda before walking through the suburbs on the way to Wellington. One thing we hadn’t realised is that Wellington is super hilly! We were going up and down hills and it was really tiring. We went down through a very steep park just to climb back up and come out on the same road! We found ourselves in Wadetown which seems to be a very affluent area and we walked past some very nice looking properties. The sun was intense today, not what we needed for all the climbs up the many steps which took us through small cut through a from one street to another. We stopped at the top of one when a cat, Pearl, came to say hello. It was being all cute and nice and then it was sick, which made me gag too so we moved on swiftly.
The trail seems to do a lot of unnecessary wiggling about through Wellington, it winds through some nice areas, like the botanical gardens, but it loops back on itself a couple of times to do that. We didn’t think the botanical gardens would have much to offer us considering we had seen most of it first hand, so we decided to take a more direct route into the city centre and headed down to the water, where we hoped it would be less hilly.
We got into town around 1pm and looked for something to eat and we ended up in McDonald’s of all places!! I got suckered into buying food, not just the milkshake we went in there for. And I didn’t even get a milkshake, they had free soda refills here – the very best thing they offer! They also have wifi which I knew Julia wanted to use, so we sat in there for a while.
The trail continues through the centre of town and there is a fancy TA marker in the street which we nearly walked right over without noticing. A quick pit stop in the post office meant I could pick up my new shoes, they were there waiting despite the debacle with amazon. So now I have a new pair of shoes and the money back in my account! Result. I didn’t put them on, I put them in my pack and carried them. The ones I have will get me through the whole of the north island.
Then we had about an hour and a half to walk down to Island Bay. It was a straightforward road walk, along pavements as we were in civilisation. It went without incident, other than feeling the effects of the free soda refills around half way but we got lucky and found a public toilet.
About 10 minutes from the end I decided to buy a celebratory ice cream and ate it on the way down to the beach. We had arrived in town just as a parade was ending and there was all sorts of activity in the park. There is a big stone there that marks the opening of the trail and the end of the north island. It was a very bizarre moment as we were surrounded by so many people who probably had no idea the stone was there, no idea what we were doing, no idea the trail existed. It was like we were seeking out some kind of precious item. We were asked by a young boy if we would like some karate lessons, no, but we would like you to take our photo…
It didn’t feel right somehow to finish at the stone, so we walked down to the beach where it was equally as busy and we decided to jump into the sea which was absolutely freezing. There were of course a whole bunch of kids there jumping in and out without any care for the cold so if they could do it so could we. And for the sake of a good photo we each had to jump in twice!
We soggily made our way to get the bus back to Wellington where we almost missed our stop. It took absolutely no time at all to travel the distance we had just walked. After checking into the hostel, we showered and I put on my sleep clothes which were the least smelly and the only dry things I had, and we went out to check out the night market.
It was packed with so many people it was impossible to even move in some places. We have landed here on Chinese New Year so there are a bunch of festivities going on. We found some good food from one of the many food trucks lining Cuba street. We chose this Chinese crepe egg wrap thing which was delicious and we waited for Erin, Sara and Creya to join us. They had a bit of an ordeal when they crossed the river on the Burtons track and I think that shook them up a bit so they decided to skip the Tararuas because of forecasted bad weather and come and meet us instead. Julia and I were happy about their decision as selfishly it meant we got to see them again!
We followed the crowd and headed down to the waterfront where we got to watch the fireworks. What a great end to the north island! A quick drink in an Irish pub saw us very oddly placed next to the normal Saturday night pub goer, dressed to impress and making the most of the weekend, and us in our mish mash ensemble of clothes and hiking gear. After a midnight visit to Dominos we finally went to bed.
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.