I woke at my normal time but decided to have a sleep in and then I read for a bit. It didn't take long to get ready and I was on my way all the the way to the Bakery for breakfast and to buy lunch. By 0810 I was on my way for the first road walk. About 2 km in I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my left heel so I stopped immediately. I ran through the list of things out could be; scorpion-not in NZ, snake-none in NZ, biting spider-no none of them in NZ either. I figured the realistic choices were stone or prickle. When I looked I had a prickle. I don't know how that happened as I had just washed my socks and shoes. Out came the needle and after some digging I was free of the tiniest prickle.
I then carried on to just short of the next turnoff where I got a little confused by a TA sign pointing three ways. The one that didn't make sense was the estuary walk as we were about to head inland.
I followed the correct sign and started the big climb. The first few hundred meters were steep then the angle eased and became an easy but steady climb which let me gain height rapidly without feeling tired. After 2.5 km ithe road became gravel and soon turned into forestry roads. On the way up I saw one runner and up near the top a guy sleeping on the side of the track. I initially thought he was a TA tramper but then I saw he was wearing a Swandri and laying on a rifle. He said he lived just up the road and was tired from his walk - downhill. After another 10 minutes there were some houses which looked like they were big on self sufficiency. I think I found the letterbox with the most character.
I passed one house where a couple were playing Ping Pong. They stopped me and warned me about the guy who is trying to block the other end of the track. One tramper was forced to turn back yesterday and he ended up staying the night with these people.
Shortly after I started on Brynderwyn Track which was lovely. It was a former farm track which was now nice single trail through the bush.
The path was now on an old vehicle track for a while going up and down on the ridge. At one point there was a tape across the path saying keep out which I ignored. Shortly afterwards the was a vehicle track to the hard right and single track ahead through the grass. There were no markers so I went straight only to find it dead ends after 50 metres. I am guessing by the well trampled path it is a common mistake.
I followed the vehicle track down the hill. I found it funny that it was marked by road markers when it was so unlikely a car would be driving up it. I then came out at the house of the guy not happy about the track. One side had razor wire with continuous private property signs. The other was the house and a sign saying "dogs will bite". In front was a tree with hazard tape around it. On closer inspection this was covering an orange marker so I cut it off so the next people along could see the marker. Hopefully someone will benefit before lthe guy notices and blocks it again. The silly thing is by hiding this marker all he is doing is forcing people to stay longer in the vicinity of his house as they don't know where the trail goes.
The track then continued down until reaching Cove Road. I could see the road 50 metres ahead but there was a tramping trail to the right which was marked as the route on the TA maps as heading off for 500 metres to the road and then following the road right back to the gate ahead. Hmm integrity time. Who would know if I just took the 50 metre shortcut? Well I would and it would nag at me if I did as i claimed I was doing this trail purist style - so I followed the trail. It was a 5 star trail at the standard you expect in a city Park. It looked really new but was well marked with orange triangles, not that it needed any markers. At the end was a lovely car park which for some reason had a no parking sign. What else would it be for?
I then followed the road back down to opposite my decision point and I saw the trail sign complete with TA maker - arrgh.
From there it was up a gravel road and then onto farm tracks where I came up to what must have been a hand reared ram. He was so unafraid I had to shoo him out of the gate for me to get it open.
It was then through paddocks for a while until a big downhill followed by a step uphill that got my calves burning. I enjoyed the farm bits and looking at the views and sheep is a break from normal. It is great that there are some farmers still happy to let walkers though their farms. It is also a credit to the great Te Araroa Trail Trust team for all their hard work in negotiating the access. I think it adds to the appeal of te trail having such a wide variety of terrain to go through.
The trail was then onto DOC land and someone had mowed the path which was a nice luxury. This path then joined the Mangawai Cliffs Trail which was fantastic. Nice wide gravel path in good condition following a nice even contour above the ocean. I really enjoyed this part, especially the interesting old coastal trees and the shapes they had grown into. The ocean was clear and there were a few boats out fishing.
The track then descended to beach level via stairs. The beach was strange as it had both Black and White sand. The sand nearer the water was white and the inland and was Black. Black sand beaches are common on the west coat of NZ from volcanic eruptions in the past but I have never seen a beach with both types. I walked along the beach hugging the water to try and get firmer sand. The were a few rock outcrops in been the little beaches and heaps of people out enjoying the sunny , thought very windy, day.
I was expecting the standard road walk for the 4 km between towns but was pleaseantly surprised by a nice gravel path between the two towns. It made for much easier walking than I expected.
As it was still early to stop I decided to bypass the two holiday parks on offer and head for the beach and forest. I intended to walk 1 km along the beach to a river that needs to be crossed at low tide and once across I would head into the pine trees to camp.
Well the plan first stage of the plan worked though I got sandblasted continuously as I was putting my shoes back on after the crossing site to the very strong winds. I could not belive how strong the wind was. As I now looked to the pines for a campsite I saw that all of the dunes are fenced off as it is breeding season for the Tern, Dotterel and Oystercatcher. This meant I had to keep walking down the beach until racing the end of the fenced off areas.
Eventually I could get into the dunes but as I climbed up I saw some Oystercatcher's so I decided not to disturb then and that I would just walk to Te Arai Point where my trail notes said there was a basic campground and toilets. About now the rain started in earnest instead of the occasional showers this far. It was driving rain due to the high winds and not pleasant to be in. This continued for the next 2 km until I reached the Te Arai Reserve. On the way to the Reserve toilets I spotted some lovely sheltered spots for my tent but to my horror the was a large sign saying no camping at the toilet block. Either the notes are wrong or this is a recent development.
I had already walked much longer than I intended and I now I had to walk over the point and hope there was forest there. Keep in mind it was still raining and daylight was running out and my sense of humour was being tested. So over the point I went and thankfully there was forest and I was able to find a nice spot. This is the first time I have had to put my tent up in the rain and I managed this okay. After a quick dinner I feel asleep listening to the rain pattering on my tent.
So there was my longest day yet at 45 km and my body felt fine though I had developed a little blister on the side of the ball of my right foot.