We began our hike at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, December 12th. The beginning of a south bound hike is at a breathtaking place, Cape Reinga. It’s a sacred place for the Mauri, where spirits make their transition to the afterlife. It’s a place where two seas come together, and the waves splashing each other from the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean can be heard for kilometers. It makes a mighty thump that suggests profound power. The ocean has the same effect on me as the night sky, half mesmerizing, half intimidating, all magical.
From there it took no time to hit some obstacles. Which I thought was amusing. We ended up getting cut up for a pretty gnarly bush wack, a perfect first hour on the trail. Then, returning to the beach, we didn’t make it far before the sun started to set. So we got out our camping pad and set up to spend the night under the stars. We watched our first ocean sunset, and saw our first night of the southern stars. I watched them pop out of the sky like a kid watches a red carpet, anticipating some familiar faces that I’ve only seen pictures of. Feeling giddy. The first thing I noticed was Orion upside-down, or is it right-side-up? What a great new perspective, something familiar, but different. To think that my family can see the same from their own night view, and everything else beyond that boundary was a whole new set of stars for us. It is a gift to get to learn a new set of constellations at my age. It’s like being 10 again. Later that night, I had my first glimpse of the southern cross. I felt honored. The boom of the crashing waves rocked us to sleep. Here’s the spot the next morning.
The walk along the beach from there was lovely. Exposure is tough, and our lips blistered, but we got the hang of it after the second day. Cover everything! Duh! Which we did. We timidly attempted to swim in the ocean. We were like children, laughing at the waves and the pull of the sand under our feet, squealing and jumping back from the jellyfish floating between our legs. So it was fun, but freaky.
Our third night we came to an incredible place. Utea. It was a hostel/forest restoration area. It’s run by incredible people, Paul and Tania, and it attracts the like. So the converstaions were great, and there were kittens. Here’s a photo of mama cat finding a quiet moment away from the little ones on my backpack.
Paul then told us that there really wasn’t anything in the ocean that would hurt us. Those jellies are pretty harmless. In fact, all of New Zealand is rather harmless to us. So that freed our spirits a bit, and then evening we went for the best swim we’d had yet. Jumping the waves and riding them into shore. It’s very exhilarating, and great to be getting to know the ocean? How is it that I have spent so little of my life thinking about the ocean. I know I live on land, but the world is 71% water. Hopefully I will listen to it now, and continue to think about it.
The next day we made it to town. I had a great talk with Lark (Aunt Lu and Uncle Mark), one of my favorites so far (and we’ve had a lot of good ones). She just believes in me so much, it’s very touching. I’m so lucky to have their support. It was a good night in Ahipara, but pretty short for a town stop and that was it. One TA section down. The first 100k.