Sunday, 2 November 2014

Day 1. Cape Reinga to Twilight Camp

Today 12 km. Total 12 km. 4 hours (1220-1620).
I was picked up at 0850 by a very friendly lady with Sand Safaris. As she had a pickup at the Waipapakauri holiday park she offered to take me there to show me how to get to it when I came back down the beach.  She then dropped us off at the bus.  I was allowed to sit in the front seat so had fantastic views of the beach.  We drove up the beach to Te Paki Steam in just 1 hour and then drove up the steam to the dunes where people Sand boarded down.  As I did not want sand everywhere before starting,  and did not want an injury, I stayed in the truck.
The bus that drove me up 90 Mile Beach

People Sandboarding at Te Paki

 We then drove up Te Paki steam until coming out onto the road and then it was another 15 minutes to Cape Reinga.
Unfortunately the weather was crap with high winds, poor visibility and sporadic rain. On the way down to the lighthouse I saw two guys walking back up with huge packs and wondered if they were also doing TA. At the lighthouse I asked some people to take photos and attracted a bit of interest when they found out what I was doing. Just as I was about to leave the mist lifted and the sun almost came out so I took some more photos.
The Start - only 3000km to go!

As I was looking at the sign pointing to Bluff I had several competing emotions. I was excited to be starting,  I felt trepidation at the huge task ahead and how my body would cope,  I was satisfied that I had made it to this point and I was proud of having the courage to try such a big task.  Excitement won as I walked back up to the turnoff and saw my first TA sign.
The first Te Araroa sign

 From the turnoff the track dropped down to the beach via a beautiful trail complete with steps. I wonder how many people think that is what the whole trail will be like.

Heading down to the first beach

Looking over the Tasman Sea

The first beach

As I reached the beach I saw the two hikers with big packs from the lighthouse sitting off to the side of the track.  I could see the tide was too high to walk around the rocks so planned to walk the first bit then head up into the Hill.  As I was about to start the two guys waved me over so I headed over to them and they told me the tide was too high to get around.  I explained to them that I was going to go above the rocks and carried on.  It was good they called me over as there was a track marked with blue tape that went over the hill above the rocks so I didn't have to bush bash
The high tide trail

Not well travelled

The Blue tape showing the trail

Once on the beach it was a long slog. While it was raining the good thing was the wind was coming from North West so it was mainly behind me. At the end of this beach was a river which I had to cross.  Unfortunately with the tide so far in the crossing was too deep for me so I had to head upstream to a crossing point.  Where I crossed was nearly hip deep in parts but very slow flowing.  I then the walked back up the steam to get to the exit point.

Now the track headed up a small grassy bit before heading into the dunes.  I was very relieved to be  the beach as my left knee had started to twinge. The markers were set very far apart so I made sure I had a good sighting of the next marker before leaving the marker I was beside.

Can you spot the marker?

It is in the centre of the phot

It was neat to be in the sand dunes and the views were fantastic. While I knew there were sand dunes in the north I didn't realise how extensive they are.

Eventually I make my way out of the dunes and walked along the top of a Ridge on a grassy 4wd track until hitting the last beach of the day.

Grassy track after sand dunes

Looking over the next beach. Twilight Camp is at the end

I was starting to feel a tight hamstring so stopped to stretch several times and decided to walk backwards a few times just to use some different muscles. I wondered what the two guys would make of my tracks but when I asked them later they hadn't noticed.  The hardest thing about walking along the beach was forcing myself to walk at an easy pace and not rush. I am sure this is going to be a constant struggle as my body remembers the pace I used to Tramp at but is forgetting my lack of fitness.

As I was walking along the beach I could see two man made objects in the distance where the camp was meant to be. They looked like cars but I was sure there was no road there.  As I got closer the mystery was solved.  They were the campsite toilets.

The sun came out for the last hour as I was walking down this beach and the memories of constant rain faded away as I dried out completely.

The stairs leading up to Twilight Camp

My tent- night 1

I reached the campsite at 1620 which made it an even 4 hour walk for 12 km. Not bad considering the amount of time I was stuffing around taking photos. The campsite is great.  It is right above the beach and has an open sided shelter for cooking,  a tap and two lovely toilets,  complete with toilet paper- luxury.

I took my shoes off to try and dry them and was pleasantly surprised at the good state my feet were in.  No blisters yet.  I set my tent up and needed a little stuffing around to get it up but that is to be expected for only the third time putting it up.  I then fluffed around drying things and getting ready for dinner.

Just after 6 the two guys arrived.  They looked a little tired.  Rob came over to talk and a little later Joss introduced himself.  It turns out that Rob and I had read each others blog.  I was amazed at the size of their packs and the huge weight they were carrying.  No wonder Joss was a little tired.  It didn't help that they had difficulties in the sand dunes where the markers are so far apart and walked a little further than intended. They are both from the UK though Rob has been living in NZ for 10 months. They were great company for dinner.  I laughed when they said they choose 29 Oct as start date thinking no one else would as I did the same thing wanting the start of the walk to myself.

Rob and Joss at Twilight Camp

Eating dinner -night 1

Rob came to the rescue twice for me. When I connected my gas cylinder the gas started coming out which it is not meant to do.  As this was the first time I had used the cylinder,  and it was brought from The Warehouse,  I thought something was wrong.  Rob instantly offered me his spare cylinder which was very generous as I did not fancy cold meals for the next 4 days (I have a reserve of 2 meals with meths). When I put his cylinder on it did the same thing so I now thought the stove had gotten damaged on the way to the start.  Then Rob suggested I check it was turned off and that solved the problem.  With my old stove the is no way you can accidentally turn it on but I now know my new one can and I will now check this before using in future.  What could have been a major inconvenience was easily solved by some logic from Rob.

My dinner was a success.  Boil water. Pour into plastic bag with noodles,  surprise peas, coconut powder and curry paste.  Put plastic bag inside metal foil bag to keep warm and leave for 15 minutes.  Open bag and eat. Tasted good and used very little gas.

Dinner - Thai Red Curry Noodles

Just as we decided to go to bed it started raining.

Hints of the day
1. From Cape Reinga once you get down the hill to the beach check if the rocks are passable.  If the tide is high you will need to take the track above them.  Walk along the beach 30 meters. There is a gully to your left.  At the southern edge of the gully head up about 10 meters and you should see the start of the track on your right.  Look for the Blue tape tied to branches and follow until the markers run out.  Then follow the tracks until you come down onto a beach past the rocky part.  There were Blue ribbons for the last 50 meters of the track.
2. In the dunes do not leave the marker post until you can see the next one.  Look in all directions not just where you think the track should go.
3. Entrance to Twilight is easy to see.  You will see the tops of the toilets 30 minutes before reaching the camp.  When you get below the toilets look for the wooden stairs and go up them to get to the camp.

Disclaimer - Please excuse the multiple spelling mistakes. This blog is typed on a small phone every night after long days tramping and this is not condusive to accurate spelling or grammer.

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