Well folks I finally made it! After 2.5 years and 4400km I reached Cape Reinga on Thursday 27th March at 12 noon. Man it felt good to finally finish. After reaching the lighthouse and being greeted by a dozen friends and family I then made my way down to the beach and washed my hands in the sea. As this is what I did when I left Bluff. While I was there I collected my friends Gwen and Ringi who had gone to the beach in the mistaken belief that I would walk around the rocks. Instead I came along the Coastal Walkway. Once we were back at the lighthouse we assembled in the car park, I made a short speech and we all had bubbly, kindly supplied by Charissa.
|Friends & Family|
|My granddaughter Kaylah. You can just make out three dots on the beach, myself Gwen and Ringi.|
But I am getting ahead of myself.
It took over an hour to get a ride next morning and I was then dropped off 5 km from my start point so it was 10am before I "officially" started to walk. It is 11 km down Kaimaumau Road to East Beach. I originally intended walking to the camp at Houhora Heads but after 3 people warned me about a deep stream I turned up a farm track, after 12km, and 2 km before Houhora. The track eventually led me to a farmhouse where Croydon gave me tea and bickies along with directions to the road. From there I hitched into Pukenui and stayed at the camp. Although I'd walked 32 km (all with the pack) I could only count 27 km for the day. I must have looked like I needed feeding up as Juan a young Argentinian, one of several seasonal orchard workers living at the camp, gave me water melon and avocado. This started a trend for the next few days of people giving me food!
Next morning Jo, the camp owner, was heading south and dropped me off at my start point. It was an easy 3 km road walk back to the camp where I picked up my pack, bought supplies at the shop and headed north 13 km up SH1 and then 4 km of metal road to Rawara Beach. I met Eric & Tony, two guys in their 60's who have been mates since childhood, on a boys camping trip. They were due to start heading home next day and explained that they had brought too much food with them. Would I help them out? I'm pleased to report that I did my best to help them diminish their food and beer supplies! I had two platefuls of steak, pork chops, potato, green beans & peas.
When I set off on Thursday morning they gave me ham and a bag of tomatoes. I walked 13 km up the beach along Greta Expectation Bay. On the way I met Bobby and his two adult nephews fishing, they donated a bag of feijoa's and a bag of home baking to my food supplies! A vehicle track crosses the sand spit which the locals call "The Crossing" and which I christened 'The Sahara Crossing" as it is all sand with little vegetation. After hiding my pack in the sand dunes I then recrossed the crossing and walked another 15 km around Kokota (the Sandspit). After collecting my pack I failed to find a vehicle track marked on my map and headed across the sand dunes and eventually made camp in the dunes after 35 km for the day. My tent pegs were useless in the sand but I managed to find an old fence baton which I smashed into spike shaped pieces and they did the job.
|The Sahara Crossing|
On Friday morning I turned off the beach after 1 km and took a forestry track 6 km to SH1. I saw two cars and a logging truck on the forestry track, the second car stopped. I thought I was going to be told off for trespassing but the driver asked me where I was from. He then told me that the TV news had reported that the police were looking for me as my family were worried about me! I explained that it must be a case of mistaken identity as I had received texts from my family the night before. I was fascinated to watch him, as he had a quarter inch of cigarette stuck to his lip which moved up and down as he talked. Once on the main road I did another 10km before it rained and I then hitched into Waitiki Landing. I booked into "The Dungeon" a windowless room, but at least it had a bed and I hadn't been sleeping very well in my tent. I was to stay here 3 nights during which time Lyle the manager donated snapper fillets and eggs to my menu. I also met Ron an Australian who had just biked from Bluff to Cape Reinga in 47 days so I helped him celebrate with a beer. The dungeon was blacker than a black cat in a coal locker at midnight and I slept soundly, the sound was me snoring!
It took nearly as long to hitch back to my start point next day as it did to walk the 10km back to Waitiki Landing. As I was now ahead of schedule I took Sunday off.
It was an easy 15km of road walking to Spirits Bay on Monday where I set up my tent in the DOC camp. From there the Cape Reinga Walkway starts.
On Tuesday I walked 3km up the beach to Pandora where there is a small DOC shelter and then 14km up a track over hills to Taputaputo Bay. I set up my tent for the last time and spent two nights here. I met Tony and Kath who loaned me a magazine, as I was out of reading material, and bought me chocolate when they went out. Also Lesley and Colin gave me newspapers and muesli bars as well as selling me a gas bottle. On the first night my tent was full of mosquitoes but the wind kept them at bay on the second night.
Finally on Thursday morning I set off to cover the remaining 5km to Cape Reinga. Up and down a couple of steep hills. Then there was my son Adam, daughter in law Adele, grandson Cory and granddaughter Kaylah who had walked down to meet me. Nearly there Poppy!
|On the final approach to Cape Reinga, up and down a couple of hills.|