Day 74 Pukeatua Rudge Track to Waikane 4 hours 14 km.
This was a really good day for me. I started out feeling relief that the Tartarua Ranges were behind me. I was going to climb over the last range to get me onto the home straight to finish the North Island in one piece.
The Pukeatua Ridge track is 7 km up hill followed by 7 km downhill. I had read that someone go up in1 hour but most TA people take 2.5. So I took off full of energy and enthusiasm attempting to reach the summit from the turn off in 2 hours. I had very little food left so my pack was about as light as it gets.
Being on my own meant I could make my own pace and I went for it pushing myself and even running for short periods. The track was very well formed and went through a number of grassy clearings which helped considerably.
I reached the summit in just over 2 hours so was very pleased with myself. It was a bit windy so I took a while to find a sunny spot that was sheltered enough to sit for my lunch.
Unfortunately I shared it with an ants nest. They were down my socks and up my pants in no time at all, and they were biting. So I had to find another spot and rid myself if the creatures.
I met a few T A walkers, coming in the opposite direction to me as they were doing “flip flops.” This means they are not walking the sections in the usual order. E.g one had sustained an injury in Te Kuiti so had been recovering in Wellington. He was now walking North back toTe Kuiti. Another had not been able to cross the Taruruas because of bad weather so had hitched to Wellington to make his way back.
They had all seen USA Carolyn about an hour ahead of me but she must have been moving fast too as I didn’t catch her.
The final part of the trail was through lovely native bush on a privately owned farm. Again I gave thanks to the owners for letting us cross their land.
Eventually I came out of the native bush smack bang into a recently logged area of the farm. It was downright ugly! The track was steep with very sharp rocks that scared me a bit. I didn’t want to slip on them so I took it easy until I was out.
Rest Day at friends in Paraparaumu
Day 75 was a busy rest day. I washed every piece of clothing I had and every piece of body too. Also I had a haircut, dud some shopping, lots of catch up stuff with my good friends, Maxine and Trevor, as we as updating my website. A rest for my legs but not much else. But I mostly appreciated a comfortable bed to sleep in for a change.
Day 76. Paekakarikei to Paramatta via the Escarpments Track. 21km in 6 hours
My friend Royce, from Palmerston North was meeting me again to walk the day with me. Also another friend Jan was walking in from the Paramatta end to meet me.
I was glad for the company on the Escarpment Track as it was very windy and exposed up there. The track was built to get the TA walkers off the busy highway below. It has become a very popular walk for locals and tourists alike. We passed a a few people running and walking the track which is good to see.
The track is very steep, with lots of steps and a couple of swing bridges; not a place that would be enjoyed by someone with vertigo.
We met up with Jan along the way and then there was 3 of us chatting as we walked. We also met up with te English couple, Andy and Moni, who were just doing day walks so as to rest Moni’s injuries. ( I had met them previously just out of Palmerston North)
I stayed the night at Jan’s place in Whitby and we were joined by Phillipa for a evening of laughs.
Day 77 to Ngaio. 28.6km in 9 hours
Jan dropped me back on the trail the next morning and I headed off I the direction of our capital city, Wellington, at 7.30 am.
After a couple of hours I was joined by Anouk from the Netherlands who I have met up with a few times since starting the Te Araroa. She is now walking with her parents for 3 weeks so the 4 of us had a good day together. Wellington showed its true colours and served up the wind for us. We went up over Colonial Knob which was a big climb and the Mt Kaukau. I’m not sure how the colonial women managed in their long skirts and stays!.
Below us were the outer suburbs of Wellington and we had magnificent views out to Kapiti Island, of Wellington Harbour and over to the South Island. Mostly it was too windy to stand and gaze for any length of time. We had lunch in a bus shelter along a connecting road walk.
Anouc had managed to get accommodation in Ngaio but I didn’t. Even the Trail Angel’s were full up so I caught a train into the city and stayed at the Hotel Waterloo backpackers right by the station.
Last day in North Island Day 78
I woke up feeling a little apprehensive about finishing the North Island. Firstly because it meant that the end of my journey was getting nearer. 1,620 km down and 1,380 to go. Also it meant that I will be going down into a part of the country that I did not know well. I have cycled there, done some of the Great Walks and driven around it but not much else.
But off I went by train back to Ngaio and began walking the Northern walkway all the way into the city centre. Even though I was in native bush for most of the day I knew I was on urban tracks. There are bridges over tiny streams that we would have waded through when in the back-country, the track was wide and solid. No mud all day.
I stopped at a few outdoor shops in the city not interested in any other shopping at all. A pie and coffee at Te Papa, our best museum, then I was off again.
After lots of ups and downs I headed into the city centre, and along Oriental Parade then onto the Southern Walkway to Island Bay, the end of my journey.
I walked up and down as Wellington is built on hills. I told everyone that I met that I was nearly finished the North Island part of my damn long walk. I took their congratulations with pride.
Finally at 3.15pm on 8 January 2020 reached then end of the North Island feeling very emotional. I rang Frances to share the moment with her feeling sorry that she wasn’t there too.