Te Araroa Trail Cape Reinga
It was a shocker of a day to start Te Araroa trail.
A couple of friends had driven me up to Cape Reinga at the very northernmost tip of New Zealand’s Northland region. This was the start of my long pathway, and we couldn’t even see the lighthouse when we arrived 🙁 it was so foggy, windy, spitty and horrible!
We shivered our way through the obligatory photos with the signpost and chatted to a couple of other TA starters (Hungarian & American). I bade farewell to my drop-off posse with lots of hugs and kisses. Then the gravity of what I was about to do really hit me.
Taking the First Step
I had been planning this trip for the best part of two years, and I hadn’t given a thought to how I would feel when I was actually ‘on trail’.
Standing at the start of Te Paki Coastal Track and setting my eyes on the first of many small black and white Te Araroa trail markers, a wave of emotion rose up within me. I had a little moment with myself and a few tears… This was it!!
I was about to become a long-distance hiker and solo tramp the length of my beautiful country. What would the next 5 months bring??!
This is it!!
I took my first steps on Te Araroa trail at 10.15 am. There was still no view, but luckily I’d seen the beauty of Cape Reinga and the windswept Northland beaches before on previous trips.
The initial couple of kms were across high coastal pathway and suddenly I was at the point overlooking Te Werahi beach. I dropped down onto the beach and came across a greeting in the sand written by some TA walkers – how lovely!
After the beach there was a climb up to a beautiful moonscape of peach coloured dunes – a real highlight! The sun came out, the breeze was behind me, and as I plodded on I saw several beautiful bright yellow finches.
To Twilight Campsite
I made the Twilight campsite by lunchtime. I had a couple of hot spots on my feet, so I got my shoes and socks off and put some hikers wool on them. After lunch I headed on and covered some distance. The roar of the sea to the West (my right) was my constant companion. The walking was pretty easy. I had timed my departure with the outgoing tides, so the sand underfoot was nice and hard. The tide wasn’t due back in until 6pm this evening.
To Te Paki Stream
In the afternoon I crossed Te Paki stream. It was one of a few streams today where I got wet feet. I thought I might call it a day. I had a few bodily aches, nothing unexpected from carrying a heavy, loaded pack.
At 3.30pm I found a beautiful campsite at 21.6 kms. There was a perfectly flat grassy area at the top of the beach by a tiny stream. The giant sand dunes of ninety mile beach loomed in the distance. After setting up the tent I washed, ate and tended to a tiny blister which had formed on my heel.
So that was day one! I really enjoyed myself, and I loved the solitude, the sun, the beach, and inspecting the objects stranded by the outgoing tide. I loved the novelty of setting up my tent, and arranging everything into easily-reachable places. This would become my camp ‘system’ for the remainder of the trail.
Looking forward to a lovely night’s sleep – tomorrow is another day on the beach!