Km walked today: 28
Total TA km: 40
Today was our first day on Ninety Mile Beach, and our first full day on Te Araroa! We woke up at Twilight Beach Campground (at approximately kilometer 12) at 6:30 in the morning and hit the trail soon after. We walked over dunes and scrub for three or four kilometers before an impressively winding set of stairs deposited us at the northern end of Ninety Mile Beach.
You’ll find it immediately apparent from the trail maps the length and straightness of this whole section, but what may not be as apparent is how unchanging the scenery is – dunes on the left, vast ocean on the right, so continuous that walking a kilometer or two appears to not have changed where you are at all. Perhaps this is the reason the beach is called Ninety Mile despite its actual length being only around fifty miles. But the ocean horizon is beautiful, the water is tropically turquoise, there is a consistently cool Pacific breeze, and the sand is actually not bad at all for walking, if you walk close to the water where it’s most firm (walking as the tide goes out helps) – and a strange coincidence shows that the length of the beach is in fact almost exactly ninety kilometers long.
We passed many streams along today’s walk – even unmarked streams were running due to the recent wet weather – and by the end of the day had resigned ourselves to wet shoes and no longer searched for a possible dry route across. Animals seen included Oystercatchers, Black-backed gulls, Gannets, Black shags, a rotting seal, a bold rodent chewing through our bag of gorp as we slept in the early morning, and a pack of wild horses that inhabits the forest inland from the beach. Beware dune busses and buggys as you walk.
We decided to walk more than planned today, to lessen the daily travel later in this section. We arrived at our campsite at The Bluff at kilometer 40 – where a road ends at the beach and a small island sits offshore – and collapsed in the grass parking lot after our 28 kilometer day, only to be threatened by incoming rain into making and eating dinner as soon as possible. We would have loved to enjoy this beautiful campsite but we retreated to our tents at 6:45 and will probably be asleep as the sun sets. Our bones are weary but our hearts beat on – friends, our spirits yet soar, unfettered by the earthly nor the bodily.
Ever Yours –