By Jade Johnston
I have several days off in a row! And you know what that means…. Adventure time! The two days previous I worked double shifts, so left my two poor American friends in charge of sorting out the whole trip. Thank god for them and their amazing planning job! We ended up renting a car and leaving Auckland around 11am Sunday morning. I slept in the car in various awkward positions until we reached the start of our hike six hours later. The start of our hike was at Te Paki stream, well, actually the start of our hike was a 45 minute walk in from the stream but since it was a stream…and not a road… we consigned ourselves to the added time to our hike. Luckily, about fifteen minutes in, a 4×4 truck came driving down the shallow stream. We wondered… is it possible to hitch hike a stream? Well, it is. With our feet dangling off the tailgate we enjoyed a bumpy and slightly frightening ride to the start of our walk on 90 mile beach.
Sand dunes by 90 mile beach
90 mile beach, which is actually 55 miles (88 kilometres) was a pretty each part of the hike. However, that all ended when we had to climb a small hill which had steps built into it. Steps…combined with about 30 pounds on your back, is really….really…unpleasant. I would much rather walk up an incline than walk up steps. But, I made it, after realizing just how dreadful my fitness level is. The next section of the walk consisted of walking along the ridge of the hill, where we enjoyed an incredibly beautiful sunset before reaching twilight beach… in the twilight. By the time we made it to the wild camping site at the north end of twilight beach it was already dark and we needed to pull out our headlamps in order to find the campsite, which was basically a flat piece of grass. We decided instead to camp on the sand, not realizing the horror that are sand fleas. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talitridae). I don’t think they bite, but we did do a sand flea hunting expedition to clear them out of our tent before going to sleep. That evening we met a lone German who was also doing the walk, and who we adopted for the second day of our adventure.
The next morning I woke to being boiled alive in the tent, but got to cool off with a bath in the Tasman sea. After taking our time with breakfast and packing, we began the second leg of the hike. After about an hour of walking through scrub and massive flax plants, we emerged to a desert landscape of massive sand dunes. The sand dunes eventually descended to Cape Marie Van Diemen. This is easily, one of the most beautiful places I have seen in my life. We hiked up to the lighthouse through the massive flax, and swam in the ocean on the side of the peninsula with gentler waves. After much relaxation we continued our hike. Up the sand dune. With our packs on. Challenging! However, after walking up a sand dune, you get to walk down. and that was quite a bit more fun! At lunch we converted the ever doubtful German to the magic that is peanut butter and jam sandwiches… Although they were actually peanut butter and jam tortillas, as bread would get too smushed in our bags.
Cape Marie Van Diemen, the most beautiful place I have seen so far
Walking to Cape Marie Van Diemen after ditching the bags
Hiking up a sand dune is most harder than hiking down one….
After lunch we descended onto yet another beach and had to quickly climb up some rocks while the tide licked at our feet before the steep climb up to Cape Reinga. I don’t think I have ever sweated so much in my life. From the top of Cape Reinga we could see the waves in the middle of the sea where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean were meeting. And after a short break at the light house, we began the last leg of the day’s journey. Down a very difficult slope, and then up the steepest climb ever. The entire time we were doing the descent, I kept thinking of the time when I was younger and I would take my grandfathers racehorse out on trail rides and my mother would be constantly worried that I would “break the horse’s spindly legs.” Well today I had the same fear, but it was for my own spindly legs. By the time we reached the final beach where the campsite was located, we were all completely knackered. This campsite was a DOC one, which means it had toilets and showers and a shop where one could buy beer. It also had many other campers who we were able to borrow a pot from so we could cook a huge pot of spaghetti to congratulate ourselves on completing the eight hour trek. The next day, Bryan and Jen continued onwards, while I hitch hiked out to the Bay of Islands for yet another adventure.
Quick! Before the tide comes back…! Me trying to run and jump with 30 pounds on my back…..
The lighthouse at Cape Reinga
Just another of the amazing views you can get after walking up a steep hill…
Exhausted hikers head towards camp