Te Araroa NOBO (Days 60-62)

Day 60

Woohoo! I’m finally back on the trail! I’ve got to say – it was really, really fun to go and explore Australia, and it’s really, really good to get back! After a couple of weeks in Australia, I met up with a friend in Auckland. For a few days, we took a road trip to the Coromandel Peninsula and then to the Bay of Islands. It was as beautiful as it sounds! Then, yesterday, I caught a flight from Auckland down to Wellington. I was able to meet up with a trail angel who had been holding onto my bag for me while I was on my Australian vacation. Then, I finished my resupply and was ready to start the North Island!

My friends Natalie and Marty (who I wrote about in a previous post) hosted me again, and it was so great to see them! I had previously written about their Shetland cows, and I learned that there’s actually no such thing as Shetland cows! Oops! They’re actually belted Galloway highland cross cows. So, so cute!! We also chatted about birds and lollies.

There are so many incredible birds here! From kiwis to tuis to wood pigeons to the New Zealand fantail. I’ve seen all of these while here in New Zealand. I also learned about the fantail – a bird I’ve seen quite frequently on the trail. The Maori people consider the appearance of a Fantail to be associated with death. For instance, when a Fantail is seen inside a house it is considered to be bad luck and the news of death is imminent. “In Māori mythology, the fantail was responsible for the presence of death in the world. I wonder how this myth began….?

As for lollies, this is the New Zealand term for candy. We tried a variety of lollies when I stayed with Marty and Natalie last time. This time, they had the pineapple lumps (which we tried last time), but Natalie had put them in the refrigerator prior to my arrival. Wow! Just being in the fridge changed the lolly so much! I definitely prefer it this way! It’s surprisingly crunchy, and super yum!

I also learned about Guy Fawkes Day. I’m not sure if this had been taught in history class when I was in school, but I have no recollection of ever learning about it before. It’ll be celebrated this year on Sunday, November 5. The reason for the celebration? To mark the failed 17th-century attempt to blow up Parliament and assassinate King James I. So, to celebrate, everyone buys fireworks and sky rockets to shoot off. Apparently, firework sales only happen 3 days before the holiday, so there’s a real anticipation about it!

Anyway, before Marty picked me up from Wellington, I was able to walk a section of the Te Araroa that runs through the Botanic Gardens. From everything I’ve heard, the North Island section of the TA is completely different from the South Island section. For my first day on the trail, it already seems that way! Super cool that the trail goes through the Botanic Gardens! I’ll continue on tomorrow in Plimmerton. Woohoo! Back on track!

Day 61

Marty dropped me off in Plimmerton this morning, and just like that, I was back on trail. The section for today will traverse the Escarpment Track. The 9km-long track follows the Kāpiti coastline and veers uphill over farmland. It was a cloudy day, but the views across the coast were stunning. The TA runs next to the train tracks as well as the motorway, but most of it is so far above that the vehicles below aren’t visible at all.

The Escarpment Track climbs 220 metres above sea level, scales about 1,200 steps, navigates narrow pathways across ridgelines, and traverses two swing bridges. I met quit a few people walking in the opposite direction, and by 11am, I made it to Paekakariki. The trail dropped me off right at a coffee shop (bonus!!). I was able to pick up my standard soy flat white and cheese scone before continuing on with my day.

The trail ran right alongside the beach, and before I knew it, I had arrived at Paekakariki Holiday Park. For the first time in almost a month, I set up my tent, expanded my sleeping pad, and unstuffed my quilt from the stuff sack. I’m actually quite excited to sleep in my tent again tonight! So far, the North Island has been rad.

Day 62

I met a woman on the trail yesterday that asked if I was purist or practical. Great question. So, a purist is someone who walks every mile (kilometer) of the trail; they don’t take hitches, busses, etc.; and they cover every section of the trail. If you’ve followed my journey at all up to this point, you know that I’m definitely not a purist. I’ve taken busses, hitches, trains, and scooters to complete my walk.

Today was no exception. It began raining around 2am and didn’t let up all day. Lucky for me, there was a train station about 20 minutes walk south that would bring me up to Waikanae. Today’s section was supposed to be right along the beach, and I wasn’t keen on walking next to the beach in the rain. By mid-morning, I was on the train north.

In Waikanae, I spent time in the library and at a coffee shop before walking in the rain to my home for the night: River Pā. I’m planning to spent two nights here before attempting the Tararuas due to the rain. I’m so grateful that I’ve encountered so much sunshine up to this point!

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