Slogging in the Sand
Our guide book warned us of the daunting, nevering ending perils of 90 mile beach (actually around 55 miles) but nothing could have prepared us for what was yet to come. The distances are distorted and unless you have a landmark to walk towards, the beach seems neverending into the mist. We were feeling good though and set off at a nice clip. Water was scarce throughout the day and, of course, the one time we stop to filter water, a passing storms tears though. It was light rain though and we were able to get water and test out our pack covers (handmade by Jeff out of some contractor bags). After the storm passed, the sun came out and we counted the miles in dead puffer fish... which there were many of. There was some passing traffic, as we were walking on a beach highway, and we put in some good miles, around 21, and as the sun began to set we tucked in behind some dunes once again. We stumbled upon a lovely grassy patch surround by wild horse foot prints and possible possum paths. (Possums are taking over New Zealand currently. There are now more possums than cows!). We got to watch the sun set and have a warm meal before hitting the hay.
The next way was yet another day of ALL BEACH walking. Now, don't get me wrong, walking on the beach is lovely, but at this point the roar of the waves and pounding on the sand gets a bit old. We started early and ran into another hiker names Neil at 9:30 am. He said he'd been hiking since 1:30 in the morning and was ready to take a break... uh, ya. We walking off the beach toward an established campsite called Hukatere. It had running water, TOILETS and a full kitchen. I should say, a kitchen full of Germans also hiking the trail. They appear to have a bit more time for their hike and seem in much less of a hurry to get on the tail. There were a bunch of dogs lounging around and it was hard to bid them adue and head back to the beach. The sun shone brightly all day with little cloud cover and it felt like we were in the desert. The mirage of a black animal in the distance turned out to be an ACTUAL seal and he sat there and stared at us as we passed before continueing to play on the beach. We though we could make it to Ahipara, the next town, that evening but, like the pyramids, it was simply out of our reach on the horizon. After passing the Holiday camp of Waipapakure, we ducked once again behind the dunes and found some sandy/grassy pasture land to pitch the tent.