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Te Araroa – Cape Reinga to Ahipara

And so it begins…

The adventure has begun… and what a magical start it was… let me tell you about it… I go up to Cape Reinga on Saturday (1st of November) morning. The child part of me is so excited with the idea of a new adventure… the adult part of me is a bit nervous, worrying (too much) about what could potentially go wrong… I share a ride with Andrew, from Canada, who is also doing the Te Araroa Trail. It is a bit surreal to stand there, at the lighthouse, looking at the waves coming from opposite directions where the oceans meet (Tasman Sea and Pacific) The Māori refer to this as the meeting of Te Moana-a-Rehua, ‘the sea of Rehua’ with Te Tai-o-Whitirea, ‘the sea of Whitirea’, Rehua and Whitirea being a male and a female respectively. I am just a step away from the start of the adventure of a lifetime… It is a “short” 12 km walk today, to the Twilight beach camp. I walk solo but meet Andrew every once in a while, on break rests, and we chat a bit. Twilight Camp is a luxury with running water and a shelter. We are later joined by Jörg, from Germany, walking the TA as well, and Belle, from England, walking the first part only. The weather is perfect and the sunset is stunning… I wake up early (bakery hours!!) and have a early start on day 2. My tent is soaked with condensation, so I pack wet and will dry everything later on my first break. My excitement is on full when I go down to the 90 Miles Beach… here it is… and it is fantastic… the thunder of the wild ocean, the wind, the sand, the birds, the hot sun… I am mesmerized… Today is a 28 km walk to The Bluff. I take it slow and easy. No rush. Drinking a lot, taking breaks, not getting wet feet and taking the sand out of the shoes regularily is the key to a good and enjoyable walk… Day 3 is a 30km walk from The Bluff to Hukatere. Rain is forecasted today and it is very cloudy and colder in the morning. I walk with Jörg today. And at about 8.30am, we experience the first storm on the Trail… strong wind and cold rain for 2 hours… (so much for not getting wet feet!). But with beanie, gloves and rainjacket, I am fine. And as much as it is challenging to walk in this weather, it is kinda fun too… I am embracing it, knowing that it is not going to last… And indeed, we finish the day dry and warm in Hukatere. We have planned to stay at the Hukatere Lodge, but at the entrance of the driveway, we stumble upon a cool housetruck and a very friendly Kiwi calling out to us “walking the Trail huh?”. After a short chat, he offers us some freshly baked banana bread and a cup of tea… And so we meet Jimi, owner of the housetruck and “support crew” of Rory, his nephew, walking the TA as well. They very generously offer us to stay with them, so we pitch our tents nearby and share a good meal and a fantastic evening with them… That is the Magic of The Trail … Day 4 is a 31 km to Ahipara… and also the last of this first leg of the journey… Warm and partly cloudy, perfect conditions to walk… I feel good… I walk by myself the first part of the day, and finish up with Jörg. We celebrate to 100km mark of the TA… and get to Ahipara tired but happy. i am now (Wednesday the 5th) in Ahipara enjoying a “rest” day, and taking care of the logistic of the Trail… Laundry, cleaning and drying of the gear, resupply of food, packing the bag again, and taking care of my body… I am feeling pretty good, with only one blister on my little toe, and a bit of sore muscles… my biggest concern is a faint pain behind both of my knees… (that sand is hard on the tendons)… and I hope my Iliotibial Band Syndrome will stay quiet during the foresty and more hilly part coming up.

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