Distance covered today: 21 km
Total TA distance covered: 387 km
This morning was a very early morning. I had to get across the Taiharuru Estuary on a low enough tide to be able to wade across. The alternative to crossing the estuary is a 7km road diversion that I really did not want to do. Low tide was actually around 3:30am but I thought if I could get to the start of the estuary by 6:00am the water level should be low enough for a couple of hours and I should have enough time to do it.
The alarm went off at 4:45am and I seriously thought about a sleep in and road diversion, but “no” I told myself. “You’ve come here for the the tramping and there is a perfect opportunity for an adventurous section and a gamble first up. So get your arse out of bed!”. With a self pep talk i deflated the mattress under me. There was no turning back now. If I didn’t get up, my back would soon be resting on a cold floor.
I got away from camp at 5:30am and basically power walked to the estuary in my sandals as I knew it would be straight into the mud. The early morning light was brilliant and the full moon helped light the way. My timing was just about right. There were plenty of exposed sand bars to pick my way across a couple of coves and you could see the tide just starting to creep back in, just under a walking pace. I plenty of time and relaxed a little. After around 2km the main channel had to be crossed but I found it just above knee height. No problem and soon on the opposite bank to continue on.
A short road bash up a private road and the long climb to Kauri Mountain began. The track was easy to follow but very steep and I just took my time. Now that the estuary was dealt with and I didn’t have to do the road diversion I had all day to get where I needed and it was still very early.
The views from the trig point were amazing. Looking back north I could see the whole path along the estuary I had just crossed, now completely covered with water and no exposed sand bars. Looking down south I could see the 6km beach walk I had in front and could just make out Bream Head although the top was heavily clouded in.
While on top of the hill I checked what reception I had and to my amazement I had full coverage. I knew that there would be next to no reception at Peach Cove and I took the opportunity to Skype home and chat with Jacinta before she takes off tomorrow for Queenstown. It think it was about 6am at home but she was awake. I was planning to meet her in Queenstown but it isn’t going to happen. I’m travelling a bit slower than I would like and I thought I may be in Auckland by now and able to catch a plan. But Auckland is at least another 1.5 to 2 weeks at my current pace.
I hit Ocean Beach soon enough but didn’t really give much thought to the fact if I was racing high tide on the estuary then of course it was going to be hight tide on the beach. This meant slow, tedious walking in soft sand. The surf was too unpredictable to be able to get close to the harder stuff. So on it was. Slow and steady.
Half a mm of rain was forecast for this morning and several mm in the afternoon. As I walked along the beach the morning rain started to chase me from behind. Initially it was just a sprinkle and I didn’t worry about water proofs, knowing that as soon as the sun showed it’s face things would dry quickly. Well as it was, as I approached some rocks with a steep climb up and over, it bucketed down without warning. In minutes I was saturated. I had enough time to grab my rain skirt and give it a test run but it failed in such a heavy down poor. A rain skirt is basically a rectangular piece of silnylon, fashioned into a skirt – the theory being it is much lighter to carry than full rainpants; easier to put on/take off; breaths better and keeps your shorts dry. I think it would work ok for showers but not heavy down pours.
Climbing the steep bank the rainwas so heavy it started to wash the hillside away and a slopy mess of mud and sand started to move in a lava like channeled down the only route it could follow – the track.
At some point on this trail I knew I would have to walk in the rain and today happened to be that day. And I must say Merino garments are amazing and I’m so thankfull for the support that Icebreaker have given me. Even saturated all I had to do today was wring out my t-shirt, put it back on it was still comfortable ton the sink and could wear it straight away even damp. The disclaimer being there was no wind.
So in the downpour it was up and up and up for a 2km ridge climb for a rise of 500m to an old naval radar station on top of Bream Head. I had lunch on top in the cloud. I’m sure there were views to be had but not for me today. Gobbling down some much needed kilojoules I then pushed on for the final 4km for the day to Peach Cove Hut.
The going was slower than I thought it may be. The track was of tramping standard with a mix of rock, roots and mud however DOC have installed many, many wooden steps. Intermittently and inrandom stops there would be really well benched track only to lead to a knarly section of steep roots and rocks. On top of Bream Head were some amazing boulders and rock formations that the track wound around. The final climb down to Peach Cove was difficult on the knees with just over 800 steps to contend with! Yes I counted them. But it was great to be at a hut for the night, my first DOC hut. 8 bunks and cozy.
Just as I got settled and hung up stuff to dry the rain bucketed down again. But I would be warm and dry tonight.
At around 4:30am Chris and Cathi arrived, shortly after a kiwi family of four, followed by a pair of kiwi women; and then the rest of the crew: Michala, Sebastian and Stefan. Shana having a rest day the day before also caught up. A busy night at Peach Cove hut. It sleeps eight so all those that booked (including myself) had a solid roof over head while the tramping crew had to opt for tents.
Peach Cove itself is the ideal little cove. If not for the rain I could happily spend the rest of the afternoon under the shade of a tree listening to the breaking surf or going for a relaxing swim.
Long post today, but plenty to say.