I am SO tired right now, but I’m staying at the Stillwater Holiday Park where TA hikers can sleep for free, but your bed is in the games room of the park, so if you want to sleep early forget about it!
I’ve had a great last few days, and I’ve also enjoyed feeling no pressure to write an update. In fact the only reason I’m writing now is because it’s impossible to sleep, so I’m happier to use the time productively.
Since Christmas I’ve hiked 113kms across beaches, through beautiful forest, across rivers and along roads. I came to the realisation that the TA has a personality disorder – just when you think you’ve got it figured out, it surprises you again!
Beach walk to Pakiri.
Farmland leading to the Tamahunga Track.
I actually met the woman who is responsible for the trail in the north while I was hiking yesterday. Thankfully I’d just had coffee and was in a great mood, because when she asked me about the trail I said it was tough for the first two weeks but now I’m starting to enjoy it. We chatted for a long time, and she was as regretful about the road sections as I am. This trail has been a huge endeavour, and an expensive one to negotiate with all the private land owners who host the trail on their property. Some people just won’t budge, and so the only way to connect the trail is to take a road around to the next track.
After racing through the Dome Forest two days ago with a guy named Warrick who was training for a week long adventure race in Tasmania, I was in my tent by about 7pm on a farmer’s patch of lawn opened up for hikers. I was about to drift off to sleep when I heard someone yelling, and then soon after I heard hiking poles falling to the ground near my tent and a huge pack hit the floor. Enter Kevin from Lyon in France. This guy is hilarious, and although we both swear by hiking alone we’ve been forced to share this section because of the logistics with kayaking and crossing estuaries. He’s been good company to have around despite the fact he doesn’t seem to understand much of what I say, but it’s also nice not to talk too much, while having someone to appreciate some of the better parts of the trail with.
Kayaking 7km down the Puhoi River.
Coastal walk from Waiwera to Orewa.
I’ve entered the outer suburbs of Auckland so it’s been a lot of road and pavement walking today. I took the opportunity to purchase a new pair of shoes – a pair of New Balance trail runners with a D width that seem to fit my toes perfectly. I’m hanging onto my old sneakers for the estuary crossing tomorrow and some of the roads around Auckland if they last that long. I’m scared my new sneakers are going to be destroyed before I even hit real trail again!
My collection of footwear.
Today I felt like I was on a vacation rather than a thru-hike. I stopped for eggs and bacon and coffee for breakfast and ate a burger this evening at the boat club nearby the holiday park. I feel like I deserved it after the horrendous road walk into Stillwater today though. It was literally a winding road with no shoulder for 5 long and hot kilometres, and at the end I was practically running to avoid cars.
The trail through suburbia!
Goodnight from km 562 of the trail. I’m due to arrive in Auckland for NYE on the 31st! Woohoo!! 🎉