Thursday, 20 November 2014

Day 19. Ta Arai Point to Waiwhui Valley.

 Today 30 km. Total 494.5 km. 11 hours (0830-1930).

It rained all night and finally stopped around 0500. My tent held up really well with no leaks anywhere.  There was a little condensation but that is because I had no breeze at all given where I tucked the tent. I had a slow morning routine knowing low tide was 0830. I left at 0830 exactly and went down a forest road for a few hundred meters then down onto the beach. It was lovely walking on the beach for the most part but this beach had an unusual feature of water appearing from nowhere and forming little streams,  many of which I could not jump across so I had to walk back and go up the shore a little to get around.

The long beach ahead

The Poutawa Steam

I got to Poutawa Stream and took my shoes off for the short crossing.  The water was only mid shin high but flowing very fast. I saw what i think was an Albatross.  It was really big and flying above the waves.  Fantastic.

There were heaps of Dotterel birds which are endangered in NZ. They are nesting and it is entertaining watching the different tactics to lure me away from their nests,  even though i was making no move towards the dunes.  The tactics were;  look at me I am eating and haven't seen you so I am easy prey,  look at me with only one leg,  look at me ruining in this direction for you to chase me.  Entertaining as far as the beach went.

Dotterel pretending not to see me so I chase it and leave it's chicks alone

At around the 10 km mark there was a family playing on the beach.  I spoke to the guy and he didn't believe me when I told him where I was walking to. Another person who didn't know about the trail.  I wonder what we can do to publicise it more. Just after the family was some people riding. Apart from that the beach wasn't too exciting but the 12 km seemed to go fast.

Now that is an easier way to walk a beach

There was a final river crossing and then I was at the Pakiri Holiday Park where I grabbed some snacks and had lunch.  I then did the next 3 km gravel road walk at an easy pace. The track then went onto farmland and went up very steeply.  The climb was hard work but the views looking back were spectacular.

Looking back at what I climbed. The beach is where I was an hour ago

And this is what is still ahead , and heaps more climbing

After lots of climbing on grass paths and sometimes vehicle tracks the trail went past some forest and then started down - steeply of course.  This part of the trail was very slippery so I took my time. At the bottom we started coming back up - steeply of course.  We then had a rare short period of flat where I fell for the first time. One minute I was flying along and the next I was doing a press up with my face mere  millimeters from getting a free mud bath.  I had to laugh that I survived Herekino,  Raetea and the steep slippery descent only to fall on a nice easy flat bit. I was following the fence line and it turned a corner but right near the ground was some wire strung across just below ankle height as the perfect tripwire.  Luckily there was some nice soft mud to fall into and I was holding my walking poles ski style which let them drop out of the way as I fell. I put some branches across the wire so others would see it.

Looking back at the sneaky tripwire (to the right of the post)

Considerate track builders covering the barbed wire on narrow bits

Once into the bush the trail was lovely.  I got a little worried as the DOC time was less than 2 km/h which usually indicates a difficult track.

Track timing less than 2 km/hr

It is actually a lovely track

Though there are some roots

And some climbs

It was well marked easy walking with a gradual climb to the peak,  though this got a little steeper closer to the peak. There was a trig at the top and a large wood platform which made a nice break spot.

The highest point

The trail soon split and TA took what looks like a relatively new trail.  It lead to a huge weather radar which was making some stange noises.

Never far from civilisation. Power cables to the Weather Radar Station. At least they are underground

From there the track was fantastic and just how I like them.  A little rough and not well used but it was marked well.  I was flying and loving it.
I was having a little fantasy sparked by the boot prints that were quite fresh.  I was thinking it would be nice to catch up to these people just before the car park where they would have a picnic and invite me.  There would be a green salad with avocado and vinaigrette followed by fruit salad and cold flavoured drinks. This may have been the reason I was going so fast. For the last 15 minutes of the trail it deteriorates to narrow and slippery with limited foot holds. This must still be in development. I came out at the road much earlier than I expected.

A little mud for the last 15 minutes

And precarious footholds

It was now a 3 km road walk to the next track.

Stunning views again

Who's that fine looking tramper coming round the corner

Where shoes come to die

The track started as gravel then turned into clay before becoming single track through Totora Forest.

Nice road leading to the forest

Tomorrow there is a restriction on part of the trail having to be done between 1600-0700 when the loggers were not working.  This meant I either had a really long day today or a short day tomorrow.  After a long day yesterday I didn't want another so soon so I decided to stop early and I would also get a sleep in to make sure I didn't get to the trail before it was open. My plan was to walk through the next bit which was open daylight hours only and then find a camp spot. Unfortunately once back on DOC land it was dominated by Totora Trees which do not make for good camp spots as the have many of their roots above ground. I stayed looking for a campspot at 1730 but could not find one as they were too steep,  too wet or too many roots.  I was frequently diving off the trail looking at likely spots but no luck.   Eventually I decided to head to the bottom of the trail on the hope of a better spot.  It was a steep and very slippery descent.  At the bottom things only got worse as it was even more boggy and the vegetation had not changed.  Grrr

Next decision was to continue on to the road 1.3 km away as there was forest there which makes for good camping. That 1.3 km felt more like 5 km.  The track was rooty,  boggy and constant up and down and felt like it would never end.  I was starting to get a little tired now.  The trail crossed the river where I purified some water and then finally there was the road.  I walked a hundred meters then ducked into the pines and found a great spot to set up camp. I hope to hear a Kiwi tonight as I saw a beak hole near to where I set up my tent.

Night 19

I let my tent dry to get rid of the last dampness from this morning while I got dinner ready.  Dinner was chicken soup,  Venison Cacerecce which is from Outdoor Gormet Freeze Dri. The flavour was okay but not big enough.  Desert was Butterscotch Instant Pudding that set perfectly.  I went to sleep with the sound of the river and thankfully no rain.

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