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November 7th
Hukatere Lodge(43.2)-Ahipara(
63.6) 

Mileage: 20.4mi/32.8km

Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook Hikes Te Araroa App. The last flat one!

A note to anyone who is just behind me on the Te Araroa this year and following for trail beta. I am using Guthook’s TA App and putting detailed notes directly on the app itself for all to see rather than on the blog here. Through the app, it will reach a wider audience, and the comments will be in the best context with the waypoints and maps that directly relate. The Guthook app is going to be pretty awesome once it is fine-tuned, but with this being the first year it can only grow if hikers contribute by writing comments at the waypoints after they’ve been on the ground seeing what is there to add more detail. It is gold to have this app on the US trails, but it’s had years to develop with contributions from hikers. It will get there on the Te Araroa, but only if hikers help to get it there. 

The plan for today was to have a half day of hiking to finish Ninety Mile Beach, get to town to resupply for the next leg, find something chocolatey for my birthday, take a break from blogging with a short post, and then find a space to myself to relax and watch shows for my birthday. Well, things didn’t exactly go as planned and this is not going to be the short entry I envisioned…

It rained pretty hard the whole night. It really is one of the most amazing feelings to be in a comfortable dry bed in a cabin when it rains like that. I really liked those cabins at Hukatere. The big windows to be able to see out were great, and the whole night we were able to keep the door open to let fresh air in and hear the rain. There was even lightning out over the ocean, and being on the top bunk I could see it through a long panoramic window. I woke up well before 5am but I didn’t want to wake Arisa or Felix, so I kept trying to go back to sleep. I caved around 5am and had to get up to go to the bathroom. I really don’t need an alarm with that daily wake up bathroom call. I started packing up at 5:30am after Arisa’s alarm went off and Felix also got going. They both like to do breakfast, so I left at 6:15am on my own for the half-day hike into the small town of Ahipara.

It was perfect timing and the clouds lifted as I continued walking in the morning. I was the first one out of camp, so the beach was untouched because of the rain that had cleared all previous tracks or footprints. I saw no hikers while walking today, but I did see plenty of others including dog walkers, some 4WDers, about a dozen cars, 2 tour buses, and two people bike packing. You would think biking on the beach is crazy, but as I’ve mentioned, this beach is more like concrete than sand. We’ve noticed that even the huge buses driving on the sand hardly make an imprint in it. It doesn’t even give with tons of weight on it.

I realize that yesterday and today seems like short days because I finished so early each day, but my body felt like it had hiked a 30 mile day each day by the time I finished on such a hard packed ground. There is no need to tear up my joints and ligaments anymore than I can feel by the time I have finished each day, so I am not feeling bad about stopping so early the last two days. Many people have taken the strategy of trying to stop and rest every hour or so, but it seems to make it worse and just drag on the pain. With how strong the wind is and blowing sand, I have been waiting to do lunch after I’m done. I hiked straight through the last two days and ate bars as I walked. That strategy has worked fine for me and my body will be happy for less compacted terrain. I’m a lucky one since my body is conditioned. Many are in quite a bit of pain and have blisters. For me, once I rest a bit, I feel better by the next day.

Last day with the Tasman Sea.

The Te Araroa is pretty crazy, and the next three days are going to be through forests that are like jungles with an intense amount of mud, very thin trail, and a lot of steep ups and downs. There really is nothing like the Te Araroa with how it hits the full range of things. I am prepared for the muddy slip n’ slide ahead, and I am thankful that although it rained a ton last night and some today, it should be drier the next three days which is essential to this next stretch. 

Apihara is at the end of the beach at the hills.

I got into Ahipara by 1pm and treated myself to a birthday meal of a grilled chicken sandwich, fries, and a specially ordered extra chocolatey milkshake. While I was eating, the rain came down hard for a bit and I was thankful I dodged it. 

Birthday shake!

Glad I dodged that!

Then I went to the really expensive small convenient store and got the few things I needed to resupply. I had a ton of extra food from last leg. I was not as hungry recovering from motion sickness, the leg was shorter than expected, and the beach walking wasn’t requiring as much food to fuel it as other hiking would. Most hitch the 8mi/14km to Kaitia to shop, but since I only needed a few things, I sucked it up and bought at the pricier one saving the time and energy of hitching and walking around a bigger town. 

Ahipara

As I walked out of town to the YHA Hostel and camping, I ran into Felix coming into town. His plan was to hitch to Kaitia and then come back to stay in Ahipara and camp like I’m doing. It’s just pricey here and not worth paying to be indoors if the weather is fine. When I got to the hostel, that is where my plans went awry. I had contemplating getting a room for my birthday, but with the prices, I wouldn’t do it on principle. I stayed in the large lounge/lobby area to wait out the rain and caught up on online correspondence for a couple hours. The problem is that the hostel only gives you 500MB of data to use and you have to login and it cuts you off after that. WTF!? That is important to know and I would have gone into Kaitia had I known that!

Other hikers were there and I got the tip to tell them that I have two devices, so I got two 500MB cards. I actually got a third when they switch staff in the evening and I asked for one. Still, I don’t know if it’s enough to load a show or two and am waiting to do that tomorrow once I fully finish all my blog stuff. While I was there, I met Suvi, who is Swiss and has been in contact with me through Instagram for a few months now. It was fun to finally meet. She is hiking with Anthony at the moment who also has a Nov 6th birthday! They both have blogs. Here is Anthony’s and here is Suvi’s (written in Finnish)

Suvi and Anthony

Not long after, the German couple that has Gossamer Gear packs arrived and we finally got to know each other. They are taking a zero tomorrow. Then Arisa made it in and Felix who had an annoying time getting a hitch back to town in the rain and also was really aching from all the beach walking and extra town walking. Needless to say, with all these people, I wasn’t getting as much done as I had planned, but it was really enjoyable. 

Ninety Mile Beach is over!

A packed hostel.

I made dinner in the kitchen and sat with Arisa and Felix. The three of us really enjoy each other and have been keeping the same pace, but doing it differently. We know it would be nice to have company on the next section that will be quite arduous and taxing in tons of mud and it has me really torn. My plan was to hike out tomorrow and do a full day, but no one does that after the beach walk because they all are understandably breaking their bodies in. Arisa needs to go to town and shop and send a bunch of extra weight (she was carrying all the maps) ahead in a bounce box. Felix is having pain in the back of the knee and was thinking of a zero, but we all discussed it and are aiming to do ~14km/8mi out leaving in the afternoon. 

Felix with his dream catcher from his girlfriend.

I’m seriously torn! Once their bodies adjust, I could see this group working out. Realistically, we know Arisa may not stick with us, but we wish she could. It’s just rare for me to find people to hike with that can do the miles I like to do and have a temperament that fits mine. By the time all this socializing happened and the internet clogged up with a packed house, I was tired and didn’t get as much done as I planned. Im sitting here going back and forth in my head on it and will see how I feel in the morning. This is a really tough one with a good weather window open for a tough section. Then again, if I wait half a day (which could definitely push me off enough to be in poor weather that’s forecasted) I could possibly share the experience with fun people. If it was a for sure thing, that would be different, but we also don’t know how their bodies will feel and they understandably need to ease in and take each day as it comes. Hitting the weather windows are huge out here and I don’t know that I can sit and wait knowing it’s clear out. We’ll see…

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