Back to Civilization
Another week down
The opportunities to update this blog grow scarce, but I’m happy to begin this entry from a king-sized bed overlooking the skyscrapers of downtown Auckland.
But let’s rewind a bit. I lose track of the days more easily lately, relying on memory and my camera roll to piece together our journey. It often becomes a sunkissed puzzle of coastal walks, highway hitches, and ice cream stops. Each day is a mixture of summer camp and struggle as the sun gets hotter and the friendships grow stronger.
All my love to Ginger the cat
The first highlight of the past week is the company of a fourteen-year-old cat named Ginger. We meet her in the home of a musical trail angel who lets us sleep in a room full of guitars and music books. Ginger has a timelessness about her, gentle in her movements as she explores our group. She curls up with me in the night, and I wake up with her warming my feet.
Dragging our feet
We’re getting a bit lazy, leaving later and accepting more hitches as the need for a proper rest day grows more dire on our way to Auckland. A fifteen-kilometer beach walk has us all reliving Ninety Mile Beach, though this time it’s the boredom, not the injuries, that challenges me. I struggle to find a good way to entertain myself when the conversations die out and I’m left with my own thoughts.
We have hard days ahead, but for now we ride warm waves into shore and laugh as the ocean nearly robs us of our underwear with each rush of salt water.
Ups and downs
For the next two days, we climb and grind our way through blistering heat and rolling hills. Cows watch us as we cross their pastures, and trail magic lifts our spirits when mud and sweat try to break them. A woman brings us into her kitchen to fill our bottles with the first ice cold water we’ve had in days. Another trail angel leaves a cooler in the forest filled with cold beer and soda. It’s the most magical thing I can imagine after seventeen kilometers of incline, and the gratitude we feel is immense.
We end our two tough days at a charming home surrounded by pigs and curious goats. A rooster wakes us up the next day to kick off an afternoon of desperate hitchhiking on the side of the highway. We’re officially in Auckland, and hitching in the city is much less common while road walking grows more dangerous.
It is here that we must say goodbye to our lovely German companions, as time constraints force them to skip down to the South Island. We wake up the next day feeling their absence, our strong six down to a very exhausted four.
Our march to the center of Auckland takes us two more days. We camp one last night right by the sea before an early crossing that kicks off a thirty-kilometer push to the beautiful hotel we’ve booked for our off days. It’s a mixture of hilly suburbs and beach walking with a quick break to jump off a pier into gorgeous blue water.
Unexpected trail magic
As we walk through dazzling neighborhoods, we’re approached by a couple in a Tesla who offer us coffee and tea. Though reluctant at first, we follow them onto their balcony and are treated with pastries and drinks. They tell us how much they love meeting TA walkers and try to invite in as many as they can. It’s a rejuvenating interaction that is the first of many as people start to stop us along the trail to ask us about our journey. Some tell us we are inspiring while others simply say that we’re crazy. The latter seems more likely.
That brings us here, to a luxurious hotel in the center of Auckland. City life feels strange after nearly a month on trail. We take two rest days here that allow us to restock on gear, fill up on whatever food we can dream of, and get some much-needed sleep. Christmas is nearly here, and we look forward to celebrating under warm and kind weather, well rested and well fed.
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