After a week of flu like symptoms we both weren't sure if we'd make our start. However we decided to head to Ahipara and wait it out there should we feel too rough. Saturday came and we decided we were both well enough but figured we'd take some easy days to ease our bodies into it. First stop will be Twilight beach.
First of all thanks to our parents for getting us up to Cape Reinga and secondly to Noeleen and Bob for hosting us in Ahipara.
We set off at 8:45 and got down to Te Werahe beach 45 minutes later. 3 hours before high tide and just in time to scramble the rocks in between sets. At the end of Te Werahe beach we had to wade mid thigh deep through the stream and tide to get off the beach. We took our boots and socks off for this as it was the only wet crossing we were expecting and didn't see the point in walking with wet feet. Coming over Te Kohatu point we found there had been significant rainfall and the surface was mostly slippery clay where we assume there had been sand. 3 marker posts have been uprooted here but there are loads so you won't have any doubts.
By the time we got to Twilight beach we were feeling the strain, the tide was high and sand soft making it hard work. We found the camp at the southern end. It's pretty posh if you ask me, with a gazebo, toilets and a water tank. With camp set up we got stuck into a Thai yellow curry, cup of tea and retired for the evening. Hope tomorrow sees better mileage as we hope to make the bluff.
Neither of us slept well, waking every 20 mins to change position, rained most of the night and was raining when the alarm went off so sheltered for an hour before breakie, using the long drop and heading off. The trail over Scott's head down to 90 mile beach is well marked, fab views of manuka bushes in flower across the hillsides, then amazing views of 90 mile beach and the steps and boardwalk, looked like a giant Chinese garden. The beach walk is tough mentally and physically, It was drizzling when we arrived and it got steadily harder becoming driving rain needing waterproofs. I was having the longest internal dialogue with a bus or car driver justifying catching a lift. Needless to say we only saw one bus and car in convoy when we were about 4km from Waikanae Stream, they didn't stop and we'd decided to camp there, plenty of good water and we are both suffering from pain in our traps (the bits that hold your neck on)! Not all that impressed right now with the Ospre packs. They put too much weight in your shoulders and the weight in the hips tends to pinch at the back. Hope this is just a teething issue.
On approach to Waikanae stream we were greeted by a wild white horse. It ran out of the dunes and on to the beach to check us out before disappearing back into the seclusion of the dunes.
Tomorrow to Hukatere Lodge where I hope they have room for us and yes if a car stops we are going to take it for a little way, after all this is supposed to be fun and I've never driven on the beach before!
It's a good job yoga happens off the mat as well as on it! We haven't practiced any asana on the trail yet, we have plans for yin practice tomorrow evening and primary series when we wake at the lodge.
Another wet night and the tent partially collapsed as we could only anchor into sand but we managed to stay dry. We awoke before dawn to find we were under siege from Mosquitos and Sandflies and opted to stay in until the sun rose. Most those little bastards left but a few stayed to sample the fresh meat on offer.
Once packed we set off and had to bush bash through the scrub, sometimes on hands and knees to get back to the beach (some shortcut that was). Once on the beach, we set a good pace doing about 5 km/h but as the tide came in and walking on soft sand, slowed to about 3 km/h and with a fierce head wind and baking sun we felt the energy drain from us. Hoping for that lift to help us make 40 km for the day we were only met with opposing traffic until we had done nearly 30 km. Then a diesel fitter happened along and we got a ride the last 8 - 10 km. Saved as plan b was to wild camp again but that just meant catching up the day after.
Now comfortably nestled in at Utea Park, Hukatere. This place is a little gem and would recommend it to any TA hiker. They have very basic cabins and a central kitchen/bathroom facility all for koha (that's donation)
Sites today are a young seal sunbathing on the beach, a dead dolphin and a large seal washed up. Apparently if you see dolphins or whales washed up you should report it to DOC or some other body as they will come collect and test for cause of death.
Saw some folks stuck in a sand dune. By the look of the car it wasn't 4WD but they took it up anyway.
Moans and groans are the pinching of my hip by my pack has bruised both sides but the traps are feeling a little better. Sherren's collar bones are bruised from hers. Feet are doing pretty good. No blisters yet and put that down to wearing gaiters. Most the leg muscles are aching but that goes with miles of soft sand. Sun burn kicked in a bit today. Even though it was cold and windy we got burnt and applied cream too late. Don't underestimate the sun here, even when cloudy you'll burn. We both copped it on the back of the knees. Ouch!
All in all feeling pretty good and hoping for an easier day tomorrow so we can fit some yoga in.
Slept in till 7. 2 strong coffees for me and a tea for Sherren and we were straight into the yoga. Full primary less a few vinyasa. Felt pretty good considering. Bit of breakfast which I had to force down. Not had a very good appetite lately which make carrying all this food a bit laborious, then we were off again. Hitting the beach at low tide we were moving at about 6 km/h. Feeling the strain of yesterday's effort and the morning yoga we both hit the wall pretty quick, once again a strong wind in our faces, so strong there were a couple of people on a double buggy being pulled along the sand by kite. We were glad to reach the Top Ten Holiday park nice and early in the afternoon.
We are the only ones on the lawn and after moving the tent thrice we have found a spot which is earthy enough for the tent pegs to hold and out of the wind.
Sherrens left knee is twinge-y today, quads and calfs are tight so must be pulling somewhere, one tiny blister otherwise fine and dandy.
Glens leg muscles are sore and the packs are still pulling on our shoulders.
Chatting with the lady in the office here she sees much worse than us, and much better too! Average is fine!
The beach was busier today, this end has a few vehicle access points so I guess it's easier to hop on and off, further north once your on it's at least an hour before you can get off, then the tide times become so much more important.
Looking forward to seeing Bob and Noeleen tomorrow in Ahipara.
An early rise, straight on to the beach and with a not only surprisingly light wind but a tail wind too. We made it into Ahipara in a few hours. Chilling out now with dinner and a beer. Clothes washed and hanging out to dry, resupply package ready to fill the packs.
Sherren has a pain in her knee today and the weather is pretty grim with galeforce winds and torrential rain, so we'll wait it out here for an extra day and plan to head into Herekino Saturday morning (if the weather clears of course)
Tips for 90 mile!
Wear gaiters. They keep sand out your shoes and you're less likely to get blisters.
Mosquitos will bite you through your clothing. Wear rain shells around wild camps.
Filter/treat all stream water. Even after 3 days rain the water looked foamy, like it was contaminated with dairy farming effluent (very likely anywhere in NZ)
Sun block even if you think it's not needed. It's harsh even on cold day. Don't forget the back of your knees. This is the Southern Hemisphere, the sun will be on your back side (SOBO).
Bring 1 long right leg and 1 short left leg (SOBO) for the sloped beach walking.
At The Starting Line.
Twilight Beach Campsite (*****)