Embrace the unknown

Day 1 of the Te Araroa Trail:

So many things happened today I don’t even know where to start. Firstly I’m laying in my tent upon the thinnest white sand of 90 Mile Beach listening to what sounds like the waves crashing through my doorway. It’s 11 PM on Monday 4 December 2017, my day one of the Ta Araroa Trail. I’ve been suffering tendinitis in my wrist so I’m attempting to write this by speaking into the microphone on my notepad app. So far so good, except that my phone doesn’t know how to spell Ta Araroa and seems to misunderstand my Aussie accent.

Jumping back to the beginning of the day, I boarded a bus to Kaitaia at 7:30 AM this morning close to where I stayed last night at the Attic Hostel in Auckland. Kaitaia is approximately 100 kilometres south of Cape Reinga at the start of the trail, and when the bus dropped me off outside the library, I borrowed a piece of paper and pen and created a sign that said Cape Reinga or North.

Once on the road I was picked up by a woman named Rebecca within seconds who drove me approximately 10 minutes back towards the main highway leading north. From there a lovely gentleman named Eric picked me up in his truck and drove me another 20 minutes north before he turned off to head east. A girl named Jody was my third ride, and she backed up down the highway after passing me, admitting that she hadn’t intended to pick me up until she realised that I looked friendly and felt guilty that I was hitching alone. Jody drove me about half an hour north, and on the way we stopped off for homemade ice cream made from local blueberries and raspberries at Tomo Orchard!

After Jody dropped me off at her local shops a woman named Rachel picked me up. Rachel was a local Maori woman who lived in a small village about 40km south of Cape Reinga. She told me she’d be terrified if any of her daughters ever did what I was doing, but that she understood all the reasons I told her about wanting to (simple living, escape from civilisation, opportunity to see the real NZ and meet its people)!

Rachel drop me off just outside her driveway and from there it took almost 2 hours to catch my final ride to the Cape. While I was waiting, I was joined by four local kids who were fascinated about what I was doing and where I was from. It was like a scene out of the movie ‘Boy’, and if you haven’t watched it I highly recommend it along with ‘Search for the Wilderpeople’ – both made in NZ. One of the boy’s parents drove past with about eight children in the back of her car and yelled out the window at the kids to get off the road and called them an ‘egg’. It was like a scene out of the movie, and the insult sounds so good in an authentic Kiwi accent!

The kids were on their way to swim in the river nearby but stayed with me for almost an hour chatting and trying to lift my pack off the ground. One of the kids was talking about how bad life must be in North Korea, and when I asked if he learned about that in school (he was in year 7), he told me he does most of his learning from YouTube. Go figure!

Though adorable, every car that drove past while I was talking to the kids assumed all five of us wanted a ride, which is probably why I only got one after they finally decided to head to the river. Maybe it was also because I waved at the car like I knew the driver, so he probably felt obliged to stop.

Start of the trail

I arrived at the Cape at around 6:30 PM, and after re-packing my bag and walking down to the lighthouse to take photos I finally hit 90 Mile Beach at 7:30 PM. The trail deviated from the beach into the dunes as the sun went down, but thankfully the moon was almost as bright as the sun and rose looking orange and giant. My photo can’t do it justice, but it was a beautiful reintroduction to a sight I’m going to become very familiar with. I think my pack weighs about 20kg and by 10 PM all the familiar muscles that used to hurt during the PCT began to complain. I had considered walking for longer but I’ve decided to set up my tent, write my blog and get some sleep so that I can wake up at sunrise and start early before the heat sets in. I’ll be posting photos to Instagram @serial_nomad too and will do my best to write as much as I can along this journey – though likely not as much as the PCT, I still don’t know how I did that!Good night from 90 Mile Beach!

41 thoughts on “Embrace the unknown”

  1. Back on the trail!! Getting back into the simple, slow(er) pace of carrying everything on your back again? May take a while, but it must feel good. Looking forward to seeing your adventure appear as the days go on. You may just surprise yourself and get back into the daily writing thing. I ‘m betting it’ll come back.

  2. A wonderful start for you and us readers. LoL about the similarity of the scene to the movie “Boy”. I could see it all in your description. Such a good movie and I endorse the recommendation to view. This trek is going to be so different to the PCT but clearly the photos will be equally stunning. Go well Muk Muk.

  3. Hi darling

    What a wonderful start you have had already, meeting the people who brought you bit by bit to Cape Reinga. You wouldn’t think that people are living there in that wilderness but according to those two movies you mentioned in your blog, there are and you met them. I love that photo of the kids and what about learning by You Tube. Not so nice about your wrist but as long as the blisters stay away, I am not sure which of the two is the best. That sandy mattress looked comfortable. Great photos and such beautiful nature around you. It will give you lots of time to think about the past, present and future. Fly free and enjoy, love, Mutti xx

    1. Thanks Mutti!! The nature, locals and trail community is just amazing! My feet are covered in blisters already, but hopefully they’ll toughen up again soon!!! X

  4. I visited North Island and did lots of crazy day hikes, The Bridge to No Where, the Forgotten World Highway where we visited Whangamomona(bet your voice recorder wouldn’t spell that one right. Looking forward to following this adventure. Enjoy and hope your feet can enjoy the adventure. Tramper Lady Ann

    1. Hey Anne it’s great to hear from you!! It’s so good you can picture the environment here and relate it back to your own experience as well! I hope my feet will enjoy it too! They’re not enjoying me sticking my needle into them so far!

  5. You are in such a beautiful country, Rozanne. I can’t wait to follow along! Are you going to be Muk Muk again? You were the first blogger I ever followed and you inspired me to start my own blog.

    1. Hey Susan!! I’m so happy to hear that! No trails names have been talked about yet, but I have little Muk Muk with me and always think of myself as Muk Muk when I’m on the trail! 🙂

  6. Great to see you hiking again! I have no idea about timings etc on the trail but I’m in Queenstown January 13-20 if you want a spare bed in a fancy hotel room! X

    1. Hey Anna thank you!! That’s probably too early for me but I’ll keep it in mind for sure! I hope you have an amazing trip!! I can’t wait to see Queenstown!!

  7. Wow, what a nice way to begin the day, with your inspiring adventure. Solo travel , flavoured by those special people you meet along the way, for me is the most rewarding aspect of the experience. I wish you renewal, a bit of adversity and a full on adventure.
    Safe travels,

    1. Hey Robert thanks so much for the note, you summed it up perfectly! I expect to experience all of the above and more. Thanks for tuning in! 🙂

    1. I miss it already!!! I’m testing out the MSR because I wanted a removable fly to see the stars! BUT it takes a lot longer to set up and is way more narrow. At this stage the Tarptent is my all time favourite unless the MSR surprises me somehow!

    1. Thanks so much!! It’s been a struggle to get a second one written so far but I promise there’ll be more!

  8. So jealous of you and so stoked for you! Massive props for doing it alone. I would love to do a long distance hike, I set out to do the PCT and quickly realized I don’t like being alone for that long, I want to share it with someone so hopefully someday I can do it with a partner. Cant wait to see more or your journey!

    1. You know I totally get it. I actually felt really lonely yesterday and realised on the PCT I had so much going on around me I only got super lonely in Oregon when I was truly alone. It’s actually hard to be alone on the trail though, and the one great thing about hiking solo is that you really connect with the people you do meet because you rely on their company so much. I really hope you get back to the PCT partner or not – you will love it I know it!!! 🙂

  9. Muk Muk–thanks for including the description of your hitches. Co-workers can’t believe I hitch to and from the PCT when doing section hikes, but the people one meets hitching are always interesting. The interactions with others is as much of the adventure as doing trail miles.

    I am looking forward to reading reports as you progress. I have considered this trail myself, and am wondering how much road walking you will encounter.

    Good luck and happy trails.


    1. Hey Herb thanks for the note! I’m a little wary of the road walking after reading Wired’s recap of her hike, but I guess that’s all part of it right? All I can say is my feet better toughen up before I hit bitumen, I’m already hobbling on sand!!

      1. Well since I’m spending 60% of my life adventuring you never know where our paths might connect but unlikely NZ this year. I have some friends on the TA currently. They are skipping the long road walks especially the sketch ones. I suspect you’re going to have plenty of opportunities for silly frustrating videos with the sections of muck trails.

  10. Have a great time. Do get some Kumara chips and mussels at one of those town visits along the way. A sheer delight 🙂

  11. Oh, those landscapes! So beautiful, and up until now seem quite lonely and off-civilisation, which probably also explains your heavy pack, what with all the food?
    Hoping your muscles, tendons and feet get used to walking all day soon! I remember the early days of my hike when in the evening I almost could not lift my arms up enough to undress…
    Walking on sand sounds really hard and tiring, but with those views it’s probably/hopefully all worth it!

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