Back in the game

I’m camping in the rain in the backyard of some dingy pub for $8 so I can eat a descent meal in town tonight. I reached the town of Waipu today, km 420 of the trail and feel bloody brilliant. Maybe it’s the sweet lager I’m drinking right at this second at the pizza shack, or maybe it’s because I spent the day with Brian and Julian and realised just how much I’m actually enjoying the trail compared to others. All I needed was to hear someone else complain about the beach walking so I could step in and say, “yeah but isn’t this beautiful, and it’s overcast today so we’re in heaven!”

I didn’t actually hike much with them, because generally I love to hike alone, but we leapfrogged a little and all got stuck at the same river crossing because non of us took notice of the notes and the tide. We reached the Ruakaka River mouth at high tide, and after Brian attempted to float his pack inside its rain cover, we were saved by a paddle boarder who ferried our packs over while we swam.

It was one of my favourite days on trail, and my feet were relatively happy inside my crocs until the last 5km of road walking when they needed to be inside shoes again. My small toe still complains when crammed inside a shoe, so I took my scissors to my sneaker and made a hole for my toe to stick out. I have no idea how this will affect my walking, but desperate times call for desperate measures!

I camped with the boys the last two nights and was kinda relieved when they opted for the hostel over the cheap camping. As much as I love company I really don’t want to form a walking group. They’re nice guys, but since being in their hyper scheduled presence, I’ve found myself going off their plans without looking ahead myself, and the thing I love most about being out here is the complete independence to make my own decisions!

Catching the boat from Whangarei Heads to Marsden Point this morning.

I just ate an entire pizza topped with venison sausage, mushrooms, bacon, roasted garlic, caramelised onion and capsicum, and I ate it so fast I didn’t even manage a photo. I’m literally in the best food coma ever, which will hopefully allow me to sleep despite the loud drunk men hollering about 10 meters from my tent, or at least they were before I escaped to the pizza shack.

Thanks for all your encouraging messages today! They honestly boosted my spirits and put me back in the game. It’s my mission to find joy in every day now, and share it whenever possible!

Goodnight from Waipu! 🙂

16 thoughts on “Back in the game”

  1. Hi Muk,

    Thank you so much for sharing your adventures with us. I first came across your PCT videos on youtube, and have since then followed your travels. It’s been very inspiring.

    After reading your previous entry about your feelings about the trail, I decided to write this note. I wanted to write it earlier but I was and still am worried that it will sound negative….that’s not intended….please do not take it as a negative.

    When I first saw that you were doing the Te Araroa, I thought “oh no she’ll be disappointed’. I’ve done sections of that trail on the South Island. The South is much more scenic than the North, there are fewer road sections, and to me it felt more like a ‘normal’ trail – a bit like PCT light. But I’m afraid compared to the PCT or the CDT, I missed the great scenery, the community, the wide open landscapes, thru-hikers (there are very few), the atmosphere of great adventure, hiking and being self-reliant (very few camp on this trail a lot – it’s mostly caravan parks and cabins in the South) and the feeling of truly being in nature. The Te Araroa, to me, is more akin to a semi-urban walking track than a great adventure trail like the US long distance trails. I couldn’t get away too quickly from it.

    This is not meant to sound discouraging. It was my impression, and perhaps it is helpful to know that someone else relates to what you expressed in that previous post. Like you said, perhaps this trail is not about finishing the trail – perhaps it’s better seen as an extended section walk. There is nothing wrong with enjoying it and then leaving it when it isn’t fun anymore. On that note, perhaps skipping ahead to the South Island would be an idea. It’s perhaps a lot more than what you expected this trail to be. I met a few people in the South who all told me that the North was all mud while they were liking the South a lot more.

    I can relate to your previous post, but equally, if you’re enjoying your time right now, then that’s great! 🙂 Continue doing what you enjoy (and perhaps continue sharing it, although that is a selfish request!)!


    1. Hey Mike!! Thank you SO much for this note! I do not find it negative at all, in fact it really puts my mind at ease and helps me feel less disappointed in my own feelings. Two weeks before I left I read Wired’s review of the trail and felt sick to my stomach after how she described it. I’m not sure if it was a good or bad thing, but I guess in some ways it prepared me. It’s a tough one, because I’m not a quitter by nature, and the thought seems worse than the road walking. But at the same time it’s bloody expensive to be out here, and to spend all this money on something you don’t enjoy also seems ludicrous! The interactions with locals has been amazing, but you sometimes forget those moments when cars are whizzing by you at 100 miles an hour. I guess I’ll just have to see. The determined side of me wants to stick it out because it is so hard, the rational side sometimes challenges this. Thank you again for your insight, it’s so valuable. Merry Christmas to you!! 🙂

  2. One Hundred Thousand “Hip Hip Horray’s” for today and the fresh new wind in your sail.

    Sleep tight….
    Dream happy…

  3. Glad to see the game is afoot! Speaking of feet, I have the same little toe problem (your cutting a window reminded me of me), mostly on one foot. I’ve learned to be careful or suffer, so I get wider shoes like INOV8 or Altras. Yeah, I know good luck finding those there, but almost as good I buy shoes a full size bigger, just to fit my toe, and depending on the shoe, it works (for me). I hate long road walks, nobody enjoys them, and alone it’s nothing but a grind. Do what feels right, but hitching them is no crime, unless it is to you. Love the videos Muk! Keep them coming…soon I’ll be unchained from my desk..then I go nomad..yay!

    1. Thanks Gromit! I remember on the PCT I got a men’s pair of Brooks Cascadias from a hiker box a whole two sizes too big. Somehow they worked, but maybe my feet had toughened up by then too. I’ll see what I can find when I get to Auckland! Enjoy your nomading!!!! 🙂

  4. It’s hard to say that I haven’t said before, dear Muk Muk. But I will always say you are sooooo determined to do what your heart’s desires and love so much …. May my old heart remember that I did my dreams too.. You bring me joy .. it makes me feel better to realize those things I hearing from you encourages me to love myself better…. loving you, even if I haven’t met you person to person and whether it strange to others, I don’t care. l will alway love you! Barbie

    1. Oh Barbie I’m sitting here eating a tortilla with cheese reading this with a tear in my eye!! You are just the most beautiful soul out there, and although we haven’t met face to face I feel our connection as strongly as you do! You’re like the older/wiser version of me! So much love and Merry Christmas to you!!! X

  5. So pleased you are back on track physically and mentally. Keen to know how you will manage Christmas day – another one of those pizzas and a beer would probably do. I read that the coming Mangawhai coastal walk is really good. That should put spring in your step.

    1. It was stunning! Just bought some smoked salmon, camembert, baileys and beer! I’ve decided to go all out and take a day off tomorrow!!

  6. Great job on cutting the hole in your shoe, an old runners’ trick that works in a pinch ( pun intended)!

    Three suggestions. 1) From the photo, it looks like your shoe laces in the front are a bit tight, try loosening them so you have more room in the toe box for your toes to splay and allow for swelling. Try this before spending $ for new shoes. You can significantly change the fit of any shoe by your lacing method. Any good athletic shoe store should be able to help with lacing options.

    2) it looks like you’re wearing street running shoes. Try trail running shoes instead if you decide to buy new ones. Trail runners are normally wider in the top box while still having a more narrow heal. They also tend to have more mesh that helps breathability and quicker drying.

    3). Try men’s shoes. They are generally wider in the toe box than women’s. A good store should be able to help you get fitted.

    Hope this helps, Have fun, I did parts of this walk years ago before it was connected as the TA. It’s obviously not a trail like the PCT, with that in mind, it can still be a great way to explore both North and South Islands. You can also jump on several of the Great Walks as you go. Wanganui River will be fun.

    1. Curry your suggestions are awesome!!! I was thinking I should have bought a men’s shoe as I had on the PCT, I will do this in Auckland for sure! I’ve also tried loosening the laces around my toes but I think once again the shoe is too narrow. I bought these when I was getting pain in the bottoms of my feet and neglected to realise my toes were actually being squashed! I didn’t realise trail runners were wider in the toes either – I’m onto it! Thank you for putting this trail in perspective. It’s not the PCT, it’s a unique NZ experience and I am only just starting to appreciate that! Thank you and merry Christmas!!!! 🙂

  7. Happiest of Christmas Wishes EVER !
    Rest Merrily, Then…
    Hit the trail with Jingle Bells on all those Spider legs !

    Silent Night My Friend

    1. Thank you Lyndella!!! Wishing you a very merry Xmas!! Not sure if it’ll be a white one for you this year, but enjoy everything the day provides! 🙂

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