My daughter, Cara, put me on the bus to Hamilton on Thursday morning which then made this all seem real. I was on my way, again my home was to be wherever I happened to be at any point in time.
After a night is a smelly hostel Frances picked me up and we did a few of her final chores and goodbyes before jumping on another bus up to her parents’ place in Ngatea.
We had a fun night with friends sharing our plans and the gear we are taking. The Sheewee and the PeeRag intricacies were explained and this provided some good laughs to accompany the wine, home killed roast lamb and lemon meringue pie.
On Saturday we journeyed up to Kaitaia in Frances’ parents campervan crossing the Te Araroa a few times. Kathy and Ray have both recently turned 80 and knew the journey North well. I have not really been past Auckland before so it was all new to me.
A check of the weather showed gale force winds on Monday so we decided to stay a couple of nights in Kaitaia to wait for better weather conditions. This gave us a chance to meet up with about 8 hikers who had already completed the Ninety Mile Beach section and get a few hints from them. One being “go slowly” which we won’t have much choice about given our lack of time for training. I know I will never break any speed records so maybe we can become famous for being the slowest on the trail.
We checked out the local pub and were chatted up by half of the patrons. (2 out of 4, which is not too bad for a couple of older chicks in shorts with very white legs and very short haircuts!) Neither of them were interested in coming along as our porters but one maybe up that way with his fishing boat in case we need to hitch along the 100km beach stretch.
So Monday was spent lazing around the hostel reading books and practicing for our rest days.
On Tuesday morning we will catch a lift up to Cape Reinga to start our Damn Long Walk. Below is our first days walk. It will be 5 days before we hit civilization again.