Day 2-3 Ninety mile beach
Day two was a big day on the feet! The first 5km was through scrubby Manuka up and over Scott’s hill. There were a few good puddles on account of the overnight rain which luckily our tent kept us dry and warm throughout.
Then the infamous 90 mile beach. It is daunting but still nice being able to see our destination once it emerges from the haze, even though it takes hours to get there. This view from Scott’s hill shows the first stretch. The tiny island in the distance was about half of the beach distance we covered this day.
The island was actually a hole in a rock:
The highlight of the day was seeing the wild horses. Firstly their hoof prints in the sand, then their access tracks down through the dunes, then finally a small group of them on the beach with two frolicking foals. And to top it off a group visited our camp at sunset. On waking in the morning we discovered they’d also spent the night in our camp and all around our tent. We did hear a bit of snuffling and the odd little neigh during the night but felt safe.
Day three and we set off as early as we could manage with the camp pack down -8am, as this was to be our biggest day yet 30km. There are only certain camping spots we can use otherwise we wouldn’t choose to do these big days in the first week.
I drove along 90 mile beach some years ago and found it quite boring but walking it you see and appreciate so many small interesting details such as the vibrations coming up through the wet sand, a large range of birds dead and alive, shells, patterns in the sand, seals, and sparkling wave froth. Here’s a sample of some of what we saw.
I won’t deny how hard it has been though. We seem to have spent a disproportionate amount of time in discussions and “are we there yet” thoughts.
Our bodies are holding up pretty good. We’re hurting in that had a big workout kind of way. We’re both pretty hobbly when we arrive at camp but loosen up after a few hours then are good to go again after a great nights sleep - which we’ve had each night. Blisters have been largely kept at bay with our toes being wrapped in wool straight from the sheep’s back (thanks Alison and David & Sam).
My poor little feet have been carrying a touch under 100kg load. My pack base weight is around 7kg but also including 5 days of generous food allowance, 1 days water, excess body fat, and all worn items - poles, phone, shoes etc. I’m happy with my base load and have used all clothing items except the rain coat. I’m sure it’s time will come though!! But I will definitely reduce the carried food volume going forward. They say you pack your fears and that was my main fear - being hungry. I’ve got a good gauge now on how much I’m needing and it’s much less than expected. Also I’m counting on the excess body fat reducing over time too. 🤞🏻
We were so relieved to finally arrive at camp after the 30km and as they had cabins available we splashed out ($35 pp) and had our first shower of the trip - heaven. Also good to be back in phone coverage.
Here’s a copy of the “hut book” from our first day of the trail. So starting ahead of Andrew (Totes) and us were two hardy souls who set off in August and one the day before us. Although Andrew met a couple who also started the day before us but were powering it to complete the whole trail by Christmas. We will be lucky to get to Wellington by Christmas. That couple wouldn’t have seen this book as were heading to the second camp on their first day!!
I really hope there’s a lot more coming up behind us that we’ll get to meet as I’m sure they’ll catch us. Also praying for Auckland’s borders to open soon so those that have planned to walk can get started.
Day 2 ~ Walked 28 km ~ Start: Twilight beach ~ End: Maunganui Bluff 90 mile beach (km 40)
Day 3 ~ Walked 30km ~ Start: Maunganui bluff ~ End: Hukatere 90 mile beach (km 70)