December 13, 2016
km traveled today: 36
total TA km: 1442
Today we woke up at the Koitiata free campground and got walking quickly by 6:45. The first leg of the day was on the eerily gorgeous Turakina Beach. The black sand and complete lack of wind made for an extremely odd beach walk.
Instead, the beach was dead calm, slightly reminiscent of the boneyard from The Lion King, covered in winding tangled masterpieces of driftwood half buried in the dark sand. After some morning showers came and went, the beachwalk ended at an orange marker pointing inland.
Soon we reached a gravel logging road on which we walked for several kilometers. Quite uninteresting and unending. We made a right turn at Santoft Road, but quickly turned left off of it onto another lightly traveled gravel road. This track was quite beautiful in my opinion, adorned by familiar views of North Island farmland.
Soon we came to the small settlement of Onepuke, from which our 10 km of paved road into Bulls began. We took turns reading Harry Potter chapters aloud, and passed the time quickly until the final 2 km, when our legs really started to ache. Long days right after 7 days on the river do not do well by your rested muscles and bones.
We soon made it to bulls where we ate lunch and admired the plentiful Bull puns and our first “Wellington” marked highway sign.
We posted up in the McDonalds across from the foursquare to make use of the wifi and to rest our extremely sore legs before walking the final 10 km out of bulls. There we were caught up by Doug, Eleri, Kevin, Aidan, Carl, Robert, and Anna. Wow that’s a lot. The 11 of us seem to be on the same schedule these days, which could prove troublesome in the smaller Tararua huts. For now, it’s only a joy and spending time with them has been great.
We wrapped up at McDonalds and made quick work of the remaining 10 km to Mt Lees Reserve, where TA walkers are welcome to set up tents for free and enjoy the drinking water supply, shelters, and bathrooms.
We had a nice dinner of Spaghetti with Snickers for dessert, played a few rounds of Hearts, and are now ready to crash. We ache plenty, but have a 35 km day ahead of us tomorrow into Palmerston North where we’ll be staying with Molly, Carol’s mother (Carol hosted us way back in Helena Bay and put us in touch with her mother!). Long day, nice to be in bed.