Days 17-18 Whanganui to Bulls via Turakina beach
We started at the iconic Durie hill tower bright and early ready for a big 30+km day.
Shortly after we passed my grandmas home that she’d lived in my whole life up until her passsing three short years ago. It was sad to see it quite unkempt when it was always so well maintained. Lots of happy memories there.
It was then 18 km of road walking via Fordell and out to SH3. Despite our early start the roads were quite busy and we were continually pausing and moving aside for safety. It was a pleasant rolling hill landscape with plenty of cute lambs.
The three km on SH3 was even busier. At one point we were wading through thigh high vegetation as the road margin was very slim and with the adjacent passing lane, vehicles were going super fast.
It was a relief to get onto the peaceful whangahu beach road and head towards the beach.
Finally we made it to the beach which was a typical Wild West coast one.
We came across a birdwatcher trying to photograph some godwits. He said they’d very recently arrived from Alaska as were still in recovery mode. Although they’d had a 10500km trip I could relate to how they were feeling.
We were a bit quiet along the beach walk as were both very apprehensive about the upcoming river crossing. Actually let’s be honest. We were shit scared. When we saw the recommended crossing spot we were sure there had to be a better place to cross so walked an extra 2km return (on top of the trail distance noted below) to the river mouth. Of course no other spot looked any less daunting. We prepared as best we could packing away all loose items into our dry sacks, putting shorts on, double packing away cell phone, hitching up our pack to sit as high as possible. We’d watched the mountain safety council video before leaving home but never done an actual real crossing. Finally we had to get on with it. Very gingerly we made our way across and thankfully got no deeper than top of our thighs!! Such a relief to get that out the way.
The camp at Koitiata was very pleasant and seemed popular with the motor home crowd. They were all keen to chat to us about our travels. There was a great party going on down the street and I enjoyed their music as I dropped off to sleep (early).
Leaving the camp we had to negotiate a few bodies of water and sand dunes before getting back into straight out beach walking.
Blisters were scarce on our first eight days walking so I think we both thought we were immune. Unfortunately we are now fully fledged members of the blister brigade. I’ve got numerous smallish ones all over my feet and Gerard has a monster milk bottlecap sized colourful one on the side of his heel. The photos are a bit gory so here are some beach scenes instead.
Needless to say with our blistered feet it was hard going today. This whitebaiter gave us the heads up on the best crossing via logs on the stream.
We had about 14km of beach walking today. It would have been more appreciated if we hadn’t just completed four full days of beach walking on ninety mile beach! At the end of the beach a sign had been left for us:
Loic was our trail angel we were heading to in Bulls. He and a few other local angels and TA trust members were having a little working bee fixing up signage. They do such a good job and is very appreciated. They sprung into action as a walker incorrectly exited the beach a week ago and ran into a few difficulties.
The road walking was a bit tedious and our pace slowed up hugely due to the blisters and generally very sore feet from the last couple of big days. We did almost all of the 18km of road walking but then decided to hitch the last few km into Bulls as the road was a lot busier there and had very little verge.
I still can’t get over how generous complete strangers are to TA walkers. Loic didn’t want any compensation for letting us use his Airbnb setup. However if we really felt the need to pay we were to donate to a charity (which we are).
Day 17 ~ Walked 32 km ~ Start: Whanganui ~ End: Koitiata/ turakina beach (km 1396)
Day 18~ Walked 32 km ~ Start: Koitiata/ turakina beach ~ End: Bulls (km 1428)