Day 55. Whanganui – Koitiata. 31km. Total 1406km.
I take my time this morning. Tea, yoghurt with banana, coffee, tomatoe with feta. At 9am I say goodbye to Liz who is going to New Plymouth today to visit a friend. For me it’s going to be endless roads. Walking through Whanganui is nice but once I get to highway 3 I have to walk on the shoulder taking extreme care. And for 19km!!! A tough one for my intention of hiking it all. But then look who’s coming! Lindsey and Alison, the elderly Kiwi hikers I last saw in the Ratea rainforest. So good to see them again, although talking on a highway isn’t easy. They have been invited by Murray, a DOC volunteer who hosted the John Cullen campsite during our Canoe trip, to stop for tea when they are coming through. They take me and Murray remembers also me and the Canadians. We get delicious biscuits and coffee and have a nice chat. But plenty of more road hiking ahead so we have to continue. Time is moving quicker when chatting with Alison, stopping every time a truck passes. We get to a wonderful rose garden out of nowhere on the highway and stop for lunch, it’s already 1pm.
Then more endless highway, I speed up to get done with it, leaving Alison and Lindsey behind. We will catch up at the campsite. Then the intersection to the beach. Finally away from the highway although still long 8km to go on tarmac. My feet hurt, the Keen shoes are great for forest or mountains but not roadwalking.
At 5pm I finally reach Koitiata and the beach. The campsite owner let’s TA hikers stay for free, wonderful! After having set up my tent and washed myself quickly, another surprise is coming. The two German girls from canoeing and Taranaki arrive by car, staying here as well for the night. It’s a very cheap campsite off the beaten track so there are still a number of cars and campers.
Day 56. Koitiata – Mount Lees Reserve. 36km. Total 1442km.
It’s been raining at night but when I wake up at 5am it’s just cloudy. I pack up all my stuff in the shower room as it’s dry there and everyone else is asleep anyway. Before 6am I head to the beach. So cool with the black sand! Too many clouds though, it doesn’t take long before its raining again. Luckily a rather short shower only. The beach is beautiful with all the logs and I love walking barefoot again for 7km in the sand.
Then it’s time to head into the forest onto an empty gravel road. Not too bad. Further on a forestry road through recently logged forest. Just before arriving at the road I stop for lunch although it’s not even 11am yet. But breakfast was really early and I am so hungry today. Better eat now more and then less on my 7 days food part through Tararua Ranges. The sky is dark and completely covered in clouds, I still need my sunglasses and it’s very hot and humid. Not pleasant at all but at least it seems it won’t rain.
After lunch it’s 10km on tarmac on an almost empty road to Bulls. My feet hurt so much that I change into my sandals. I got blisters again at the heels although I taped them to prevent it. I take an hour break at the McDonald’s for some ice-cream and Wi-Fi and to cool down from the hot and humid weather.
Another rather painful 9km and I finally reach Mount Lees Reserve and the free basic campsite. I am invited to set up my tent next to the summerhouse of the B&B and use their shelter and little kitchen which has water, a kettle and plugs to charge my phone. Nice! my right heel is now a big blister and I am not sure how to continue tomorrow…
I wonder if Alison and Lindsey will make it, they were so shattered when they arrived yesterday night at the campsite and still sleeping when I left. The clouds finally disappear in the evening and the sun comes out. At 8pm I am too tired and ready to sleep, getting up at 5am makes me sleep so early!