Day 66. Porirua – Wellington City. 31km. Total 1690 km.
The singing birds wake me up at 5.30am. I take my time though and only head out at 7am after a good breakfast and preparing my egg-sandwiches for later. It’s completely cloudy and rather dark as I walk up to my first summit today. Some sweating later (plus being overtaken by plenty of trail runners as it’s a Sunday) I am at the summit, the Colonial Knob at 459m. It’s extremely windy today and I have a hard time once out of the rainforest in the exposed area.
I am happy once I am back into a nice pine forest, meeting some mountain bikers. One of the guys asks me if I am doing the Te Araroa and then proceeds to tell me for 5 minutes how extraordinary my achievement is to have hiked the length of the North Island. Fully motivated I continue in the forest and then on the road. There are many horses and equestrian centres, one has a cafe and I decide to treat myself to a white flat and brownie. Yummy! The break from the wind is also nice and my whole body appreciates any rest at this stage anyway.
Another few kilometers of road later I am back onto the next hill, Mount Kaukau. What a fight, the wind has picked up and become a storm. I walk as if drunk, stumbling to the right and left, trying to keep myself steady with my hiking poles. The skyline track over to Crow’s Nest isn’t any better but at least Nathan has now catched up and we suffer together.
Then we walk into the suburbs and get a rest from the wind, but not from the hills. The trail does a perfect job in sending us up and down EVERY hill Wellington has to offer before we finally end in the Botanical Garden.
From there I take the direct walk to the outdoor store for some well needed shopping (new waterproof pants, a visor, socks,…). And who is the first person I run into? Josee!!! My hiker friend who took care of me in the very beginning during my panic attack in the Ratea forest. I was hoping to see her again and she’s also staying a few days here so we have time to catch up!
Then off to the (very good) YHA, after another stop in the supermarket. Dinner and bed plus Wi-Fi is all I can manage.
Day 67. Wellington City – Wellington South / Island Bay. 12km. Total 1702 km.
I am happy to sleep until 6.30am in complete silence. I actually think it must be far earlier, no birds, dark… But that’s just how a town morning is I guess. After a nice breakfast (yoghurt! Fruit!) I start walking the last kilometers to finish off that little North Island Te Araroa trail 😉
Along the harbour it’s nice and flat before (surprise, surprise) leading up the first hill. The trail is nice and “green”, many parks, not much road walking. In the end I am almost running to Island Bay, so excited about the finish! The end point is very unexciting though, in a park with plenty of kids playing, there is a stone and a sign. No one seems to understand or care what I am doing here, contemplating my achievement in silence before taking a number of pictures and celebrating with some chocolate.
I leave a chocolate for Nathan with congratulations and take the bus into town for some more shopping and organising before meeting with Josee at 3pm, talking for ages about our trail lives since we saw each other weeks ago. Then I try to figure out the resupply for my friend Peggy and me on the trail, the watertaxi and transport from Picton for the three of us etc. My to do list is very long and I also need time to chat with Nathan, Josee, Rolf (Nathan’s friend who arrived today), the four Americans who arrive… It’s going to be full Te Araroa house tomorrow! Impressive! I also look forward to seeing my friend Coco tomorrow and celebrate her birthday and get some more rest!