I managed to get up slightly before dawn thanks to a great sleep at Utea Park, had a brief conversation with the owner and got underway.
Perfect walking weather! Light in the morning, slightly overcast once the sun rose a bit, tail wind, the whole caboose really.
Things began to go downhill from there.
I think the rain started about the same time the wind changed. Pretty soon visibility was down to about half a kilometre and then I began to get tired.
By the time I reached Ahipara it was probably about 2pm. I had seen it many times between showers and it just never seemed to be any closer.
The last two hours were pretty interminable and by the time I got to the holiday park I was in no fit state of mind to set up camp in the rain so I got myself a little cabin, ate two meals, and now at the happy hour of 8pm I am going to go to bed.
Maybe I should have camped up when it started raining. I had set a goal and I made it but there was no reason I couldn’t have taken an extra day.
I ended up staying a couple of days in Ahipara waiting for some guys that I met in Utea Park to do the Herikino with them. Don’t wait for other people. When they arrived at Ahipara they were taking a week off for their feet to recover.
The dunes look like massive bluffs in the distance that slowly shrink as you get closer until they are only ten or so meters tall.
It feels like it goes on forever, the walking that is. Without the island to give me a reference point I would lose track of time and couldn’t tell whether I had just had a break or whether it was hours ago.
At one point I saw a stick that looked like a man riding a bicycle and it was only when I got closer that I realised it was a man riding a bicycle….in floro. Very disconcerting.
4WD’s occasionally went past but I didn’t see any tourist buses.
I forgot to say that at the Bluff Campground I met a French tourist who asked me whether it would be a good idea to drive down the beach. I think I sort of killed it for him by asking to many questions.
“Is it your car?”
“Is it 4WD?”
“Have you ever driven on a beach before”
Finally, I saw a flag (to give me hope) and after a small amount of wandering confusion due to my slightly dehydrated state I found myself in the wonderful Utea Park.
I did try to figure out the history of the lodge. They were defiantly doing something. But then two guys turned up with a didgeridoo and offered me a beer after which we went to get some more.
They have fantastic metal roads up here for the logging trucks. Wide, flat, and one of them had a roundabout.
By the time the owners turned there were quite a few of us outside and it didn’t faze them at all. They just joined right in.
Sorry, I didn’t get many photos. I got sidetracked.
Utea Park was great. It would be a good place to rest for a day even if you aren’t feeling like it.
Today was my first real day of walking as I got up at dawn, made a cuppa, packed up, and headed off. Oh, and there was gruel too.
It takes quite a lot of time to pack up and the entire effort seems quite useless when you know that you will do the reverse that evening, albeit in a different place. I feel some sort of tent pack concertina arrangement might be a better idea. Something that solves the entire put up tent to put pack in fiasco.
There is an island with a hole in it. I probably should have taken a picture of it in retrospect. I found it is useful for judging distance travelled by the size, or lack thereof, of the hole.
There is a lot of beach, with much sand. It looks like this place has been getting beaten by waves. Many of the sand dunes are cliffs with vegetation hanging down them.
Thus far, I have been aiming for campsites to stay the night at. Or at least to aim for. I think that this may have been a bit of a mistake and this campsite isn’t any different from sleeping behind a sand dunes. No water, no shelter, toilet broken. I had a look at getting their water system going but in the end just filtered some water out of a bathtub. It was easier.
There was a motorcycle this morning that passed me by heading south. I think he must have to do it every day because an hour or so after he disappeared the tourist bus came through. It looked like a good job.
There isn’t nearly as much rubbish as I thought there would be. I pretty much expected something like the west coast of the barrier used to be like when I was a kid with tangled bags and six pack holders, nets and lost buoys. However, in most areas there is only one piece of visible rubbish about every fifty meters with the frequency increasing around campgrounds.
This was a long day. I wished I had of shortened it by walking further the day before.
There were a couple of streams at the start but not so many as I went along. Taking extra water is a good thing.
The hole in the rock is about the only way of seeing any progress you have made.