Te Araroa, Stage 1 (90-Mile Beach)

Photo credit : Maya Yasur
Day 1: 20 kms 
(Cape Reinga to Te Paki Stream)

I arrived to Cape Reinga just after sunrise. The wind was intense but it was beautiful to watch the powers of the ocean and sea collide.

During the day I crossed several small streams and puddles (it rained at least three days before in this area). Sometimes I took off my socks and shoes to cross. When I didn't, I regretted it. 
First breakfast--cold oats 5km after the Cape

Once I tried going slightly off-tack to avoid a stream and got caught in dense bush. I basically had to fight my way out for about fifteen minutes. Not a small feat 15km in to my trek with a 20lb backpack.

The rest of the day showed me beautiful landscapes from pink sand dunes and empty beaches to manuka forest. It finished on the infamous 90-mile beach.

I freely set up camp near Te Paki Stream, seeing my first two people as I veered off to scout a place for the tent. They were far in the distance so I ended my day without human interaction since Cape Reinga.

Day 2 : 20 kms
(Te Paki Stream to The Bluff campground)

The rumors are true. The beach makes an uninteresting walk. Only cars passed me by.

Other highlights include seeing a miniature "Hole in the Rock", a pack of wild horses and collecting seashells to occupy my time.

Besides the book, my only other company on the beach were dead animals. Fish, bird, and seal carcasses were eerily scattered throughout the walk.
Can you see the rainbow?

Day 3: 29 kms 
(The Bluff to Utea Park Campground "Hukatere")

Long section but it ended well--in a real bed. After The Bluff I was pleasantly surprised to see the hostel-like camp ground with full kitchen facilities, hot showers and beds! 

They advertise that it's run on koha (donation) but that is really to say: $10 for camping, $15 for a bed.

I finished my book during the walk, so I was happy to find a small book exchange area at the campsite too.

I camped out at The Bluff site just opposite a bird reserve. The toilet was disgusting and the cisterns were dry. However, there was plenty of open space on the grass for my tent.

My body is OK but tight calves and slight shoulder pain from my backpack straps.

Day 4 : 0 km 
(rained out at Utea Park)

It rained through the night and into the morning. I was so glad I splurged on a bed! By 10am there was no change in the weather, so I decided to stay put.

I was disappointed at first but decided it would be good rest for my body. Plus, I could utilize the kitchen to make a hot lunch with the plentiful shellfish, tuatua.

Then a friend of the owner invited me along for a leisurely day out. We stopped at the dairy (a small town store), where I stocked up on food for the next week. Next we went on to visit a few of his friends for "a cuppa".  We also did some fishing (we only caught a star fish and sea weed) and we wrapped up the day at a harbor for sunset.

Back at camp I feel asleep easily, with a beautiful starry view through the window.

Day 5 : 29 kms
(Utea Park to Ahipara)

Feeling recharged from the uplifting day before, I set out early and ready to conquer the world!

The walk was long but smooth. I continued collectting shells, reading a bit, and simply doing nothing. Parts of the day showed a sparkle in the sand.

The last kilometer into Ahipara was the hardest on my feet. Fortunately, a nice local man offered me a ride to the shop (2kms from the beach) and helped me decide my next steps.

After much contemplation and advice from locals, I decided to skip the beginning forest sections. Apparently the trail can be quite over grown, muddy, slippery, and steep. A dangerous combination with a heavy backpack and off-season timing (less people for help and track maintenance).

Instead, I hitched a ride to Kaitia for the bigger supermarket, a visit to the Te Ahu Centre and a key hub for hitching to my next start-- Mangamuka Bridge.

Big thanks to Maya for all the love and support!!