Day 19. Orewa Beach – Tatarata Point. 32km. Total 576km.
The night was alright but the best is the sunrise I can watch right from my tent. I am not in a hurry as the river crossing in 20km can best be done at the lowest tide at 3.17pm today.
So after packing up and saying goodbye for now to the French couple, I walk 1km to the shopping centre of Orewa where I can use the free Wi-Fi of my mobile operator Spark to upload my new blog post and check latest news (Spark has public phone cabins with free 1GB Wi-Fi per day in many places, very handy!). Then over to the Countdown supermarket to buy some fresh food for today. At 9am I am finally starting on my road walking. About 15km of roads, some parts a bit scary and you always have to be careful. It’s incredible to pass by so many shops today! All these things you can buy here! I feel to dirty to enter anywhere anyway though (and not that I would want to add more weight to my backpack either). It gets a bit tough for my feet and boring after a while but I resist the offer for a ride. Just before a campsite around noon I take my break at some tables.
Rested, I continue to the Coastal walk when a man approaches me. He explains where I should best walk and that I need to wait for the lowest tide. He owns the Stillwater campsite and offers to all TA hikers to stay for free and that I can come back and stay if I have any problems. How lovely! I continue and follow his advice, avoiding the swamp. It’s beautiful out there! Then I hike up a cliff and can see at a lookout what I have to cross! It’s a huge area where the sea starts to get lower and lower but it seems challenging to cross! Back down at the beach I prepare myself for the crossing, packing away my camera… A few minutes later I meet again the French hikers who have done some hitchhiking to get here, they have been waiting out the tide. It’s one hour before the lowest tide now so I want to go and try and we all start together. The start is easy, there are sandbanks and we can easily walk in the water. Then we are at the river and try to find a good spot but it’s pretty deep. I go and try but my backpack touches soon the water. I try at other parts, now my shorts are wet anyway, so I put my backpack on top of my head and wade through the water. Yep, not as difficult in the end as I thought but then there was almost no current at all. But you are very wet and then need to dry somehow….
I change in the end for my long trousers and we continue on the cliff, enjoying the landscape and view.
Then further on the beach, some roads, some more beach but we are tired and look for a place to camp. Finally a nice guy tells us to go just a bit further where we can set up our tents, we are a bit sheltered and he says people don’t mind around here, they know we are TA hikers. The place is rather nice but again I am very happy to not camp here on my own but with Chloé and Robin. People look at us, they just smile and wave and then people smile back. Easy 🙂 We chat and have dinner and then go into our tents. Again I will sleep with the sound of the ocean even though I can’t see it this time, high up in the cliffs.
Day 20. Tatarata Point – Auckland Mount Eden. 24km. Total 600km.
I get up at 5am as I want to be early in Auckland (and I can’t sleep anyway). I have great views on Rangitoto island, the sunrise, the cliffs, a lot of nice houses (and a few ugly ones – seems the rich people with a Porsche don’t have a good taste for houses!). Auckland and the Skytower are visible every now and then. It’s a much nicer hike than I thought initially, passing by a couple of beaches. I feel very tired though and walk slowly.
At 10am I reach Devonport and take the ferry to Auckland. It’s very windy and the ferry doesn’t keep steady while we get on-board. Nevertheless I sit upstairs outside to enjoy the view of Auckland’s skyline. I am almost blown away but I really love it (with about 3 other tough guys staying outside).
Once in Auckland I need to get my hut pass organised at the DOC office which takes some time as plenty of people are there. Then it’s lunch time and I am delighted to find some Brezels at the Countdown supermarket 🙂 I am sitting outside a hostel on a bench, eating, as a guy asks me if I hike the Te Araroa. He will be starting the trail with his friend tomorrow, so I give as much advice as I can.
Then I buy a new gas canister at the outdoor store, get my “bounce box” (rather handbag) back plus need to fight almost for getting my 10$ back (as I paid 4 but only had 3 weeks of storage). Not the best YHA indeed! Well, after some Wi-Fi I head off to Mount Eden. It’s great to be back here, when I was in New Zealand back in 2001, I was at a Homestay around here for 8 weeks. The view is nice (once you climbed up finally, my backpack being now heavy with my bounce box stuff and a bottle of wine).
Then it’s very close to the University where Tina, a friend of my mother, works. I take a quick coffee to not fall asleep this afternoon before Tina takes me in her car to her home. A wonderful house with sea view where I even have my own room with a big mattress downstairs plus a whole bathroom for myself. This is luxury, but it’s just the beginning! I put my clothes in the washing machine, wash myself (and I now have finally my razor back!!! I will not leave without it this time, I am not made for not caring about hair growing in my armpits and felt horrible the last days), organise some of my stuff before joining Tina, her husband and two lovely children for a perfect afternoon and evening with a BIG dinner including fish, asparagus, potatoes, salad, cucumber salad,…. It’s delicious and it also feels so good to just share a moment in a real home with some family live (plus such a nice one!). Heaven 🙂 I even learn about a few events and people in New Zealand as we practice for a test with the girls. I stay up much longer than I usually do and afterwards benefit some more from the Wi-Fi in my huge bed.
Day 21. Auckland Mount Eden – Ambury Park Camp. 13km. Total 613km.
Although I didn’t sleep much I feel so rested and great in the morning. I say goodbye very thankful for the wonderful time and at 7.45am Tina takes me back to the university where I continue the trail trough the Cornwall Park up to One Tree Hill. It’s a very green and big Park in Auckland so I really enjoy it, having a good rest at the top.
Then I continue, a short walk to the Pack’n’Save supermarket for my resupply. I have decided to only walk a few more kilometers today to the Ambury Park which seems a nice place to stay and relax. I feel that I need some more rest, plus the next stretch will be very difficult for camping. A nice lady in the supermarket lives close by to the camping and invites me to come over for tea later (but in the end it’s about 2km to walk back to her house so I won’t go). I buy some heavy fresh food plus some dehydrated stuff for the next couple of days and can feel the heavy backpack afterwards. I have also decided that this whole bounce box thing is too much of a hassle for me so I have now a few more items in my pack (a warm long sleeve for the mountains, new sunscreen, a second gas canister as the first one is almost empty (but I couldn’t just leave it), new socks, insect repellent (sand flies!),… My nail polish stayed with some other stuff at Tina’s home though so that might be the last few days my feet look nice for the next four months 😉
I take a break at the sea for lunch and shortly after I am already at the campsite. Not many people around, I set up my tent, have a coffee and for the first time during this trail, just lay down to read and relax a little. This is nice! I will have an early dinner, sleep early and then start early tomorrow to try making it out of the town tomorrow.