Today was an awesome day. Such beautiful weather. No wind and a calmness in the air that you only feel on special days. Today I felt the presence of my mother walking with me, more than usual, the calmness and the birds that were singing and hanging around at arm length. I know something special is going on when there is no wind, Wellington doesn't get the windy city title for no reason. Starting the climb to the top pf Colonial Knob there are 700 steps to get to the opening at the top where the path opens up and the awesome views start. There were lots of people on the track, all different ages, all enjoy the beautiful weather and being outdoors. Families walking together, enjoying each others company, there was a really awesome vibe in the air today. Initially the views were from were we walked yesterday from Pukerua Bay to Porirua and you were still able to see Kapiti Island with Mana Island being very center of the views. Walked further up and we were able to see the South Island in the distance. Walking through farm land we were greatfull there were just sheep hanging out none of the big girls cows that we have come to laugh then cry about. You leave the farm land and head into the forest which is a pleasant walk with all the pine needles making the path almost bouncy, the pine smell in the air was very fragrant. We met a nice couple who's surname was Walkers, loverly couple and we chatted way too long. Very cool surname. When you hit the road section, we found an old church to have lunch and walk respectfully through the old graves. We started the track to Mt KauKau through farmland. We could see if we kept to the path we would soon be walking with the cows so with the knowledge of a local we headed off on a side track and some steep climbs to intersect with the Mt Kaukau track. The views of Wellington City are amazing and we could see the inter islander ferry that we will soon be on, coming through the heads. Getting to the top of KauKau we had even clearer views of the South Island and there was not a breath of wind up the top. We are very excited to be starting the South Island part of our journey. This was a perfect day of walking and great views. Today was a perfect day to be out on the trail, tired but happy.
Very enjoyable beach walk takes you along the waterfront from Raumati and along side Queen Elizabeth park into Paekakariki. The tide was out enough initially to allow us to walk along the beach most of the way, then when the tide came in we moved to the path just above the beach. The views of Kapiti Island were very clear and Mana Island is on the horizon. We had good weather and the wind was quiet and calm. We went into the Green Parrot Cafe for lunch and to our surprise Rob Wakelin and a couple of Te Araroa Trustee's where having lunch there also. We joined them and all shared some fantastic stories and heard about the work going on to extend the current pathway of the Paekakariki Escarpment all the way to Pukerua Bay. I did think we were lucky to have this chance meeting and was great to hear about the South Island we are about to embark on. We walked the three kms of the current track up the hill and went a bit further to see if we could safely get through but even though you can see the swing bridges that will form part of the new through section, you aren't able to link it all together. So we turned around. This will be really beautiful when it's all linked and a great alternative to the current road link. The views are awesome, steep up hill and narrow but doesn't take long to get rewarded with great views. It was a bit odd to turn around for a change and as it goes it feels so much faster on the way back. Today was a great day.
Walking the beach is always an enjoyable part of the trail walking for me, all the different colours of the sands we have encountered and the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore I find very calming. Always looking our for a jumping fish and hoping to spot that something special. Paraparaumu beach with Kapit Island so close it feels like you can touch it, is awesome on a beautiful day, and we were lucky enough to get one with out the Southerly wind. Mana Island is all part of the back drop as well, for us it was soaking in the beauty of what we have taken for granted previously. I have been to Kapiti Island many years ago with my mum and remember it fondly. It was also great being along side coffee shops and play grounds, always time to play around.
Today the Southerly wind was very, very fresh. Layers where needed just to block the wind chill. The trail is well marked but got a bit confused at the cross over bridge over the motor way. Take the second bridge which you access by going onto the train platform at Mana Train station, then through the park on the other side. We saw paradise geese with their 5 big chicks, took a bit to realise they were babies. Then there is some signage for the trail that must have been up before the crossing and lights were put in place, it's easy enough to figure out as you end up in the same place just safer to cross at the crossing. New residential area is being developed, along side the road to Porirua and there is high ropes park, we thought about it and that was as far as it got. Kept walking into the wind.
Coming in for the home stretch, only 200m until the Pipiriki landing, the last rapid of the river and we would have made it. Sadly that wasn't to be, our canoes collided, and we all went over. Chris went over because Bella was sharing the love and wanted us all to have the same experience; he floated back down the river in a different rapid. My experience wasn't good, I was waiting to surface and could see the day light above but it felt like it was forever and there was no air to breath, I took my first ever breath of water. I did of course come up to be caught in a crazy rapid with Bella, and totally struggling to breathe. Now with Bella, I and the canoe all rushing towards a downed log still attached to the river bank. The overturned canoe was caught under a huge deadfall log, Bella and myself were lucky to catch onto some branches hanging over the river just a couple of meters in front of where the canoe was upside down and caught between the tree and something under the water we couldn't see. Hanging on for dear life meters in front of the canoe, we didn't want to go under the log and canoe never to be seen again. Thanks to a stranger Tom who dragged us further out onto the log away from the raging current, then we got pulled up on to the log. Bella was up first and I was so happy to see her out of the water and safe. My turn and my legs took a long time to stop shaking.
Back to the start of our journey at Whakahoro, we had great weather; warm days, mornings all the hills were covered with cloud but this cleared to beautiful weather while we took camp apart. Minimal wind and the water was high due to rain the previous days. Me and Bella are in a two person canoe and Chris is in his own. We are slow but steady; we have four large barrels with all our gear in them in the two person canoe, we had to pull over and rearrange our load a few times. First night spent at John Coull camp site, loos are the worst we have come across at a Doc site. Due to the high floods a few months earlier the loos aren't working as they should so they reeked. We enjoyed the walk to the bridge to nowhere, its an amazing bridge and it’s story is interesting. The Managapurua landing was busy with canoes, when we arrived the landing was busy so we tried to exit on the side of the rock, no a good idea for me the lady with zero balance, opening the barrels, while standing up in the canoe was comical until one of the bags fell between the canoe and the rock wall, so lucky, I got to it just before it went into the depths of the river. Then after the completing the bridge to nowhere walk and trying to get back into the canoe, the canoe shifted away from the wall, but I was still attached, one leg in each. Bella would have taken a photo of me doing the splits over the water. I refused to fall in and was lucky to have the helping hand of a cyclist waiting for the jet boats. Second night was at Tieke Kainga this is a really nice site, with a small Marae on top of the hill, loos were good, lots of good water and was warm enough for a swim, fresh swim though. Warden had interesting stories of how the pa site used to have 600 residents in years gone. We saw lots of birds and goats and waterfalls and it was just beautiful floating on the calm sections when you took a moment to enjoy were you were. If I could do this over again I would use a guide. In particular Toiora Hawira, who features on Waka Worriors on Maori TV. Their company specialises in group trips. Thank you to George and Raewyn for taking us into their wonderful home, Bella was able to pat horses, walk with Harrison the sheep and see tiny baby birds in their bird boxes. The gardens are what I hope to have one day, although I would need a gardener for that. Thanks to Ashley for taking us to Wanganui, the road beside the river has been closed due to flooding, so there would have been no chance of a lift to nearly 70kms, so very fortunate to get a lift.
We didn't realise at the time that Bella's site had dislodged slightly with all the water action so she wasn't getting the correct amount of insulin through, that night she had high bloods and an over correction saw her lowest reading yet, but due to being on two hourly checks we picked it up and Bella was back to normal by the morning.
Chris's brother Peter and his wife Val live in Levin and we have been very fortunate to spend time staying with them and Bella has enjoyed hanging out and catching up with her cousins. We walked to Otaki Beach, this beach is the widest we have walked on so far, lucky for us the tide was quite low so when we needed to ford the river for me it was only chest high, which meant we didn't have to carry our gear above our heads. Chris went through first to make sure it was do able. A few other streams where knee high. During the walk there are many wooden tepee structures that people have built and the every present Kapiti Island is present in the distance on your right hand side. The southerly wind wasn't too bad, there was a couple of times you needed to cover your face to stop eating sand, but the cold front coming through was very present and sent a few drops our way. Lucky the rain held off until we were off the beach.
Starting on the beach on the way to the Santos Forest you can see the pillar in the distance that is Wanganui Airport, you don't go that far down the beach in fact the place that you do turn is very miss able. Markers are nearly covered by sand dunes, attempts have been made to move logs around for us it was the foot prints in the sand that gave it away, they made for a second inspection and we were able to see the Te Araroa marker heading into the forest. Headed into the Santos Forest for a stoney road walk then out into a cut pine forest that had sweet smelling blooms for kms. Then it's another 10km on road to Bulls. We were all very tired and our feet are a bit worse for wear and Chris has tooth ache again doh.
We waited until the tide was low enough to allow us to walk safely onto the beach which would take us to Castle Cliff. There were many landslides along the beach which have been caused by the floods but this was a pleasant walk and the day was beautiful. This almost feels like this part of the world has been kept a secret. We were on the beach by ourselves for most of the day. We met Jude and later her husband who took us into her home and shared her story with us. Grief is a very personal journey and the loss of a child to me is totally unimaginable, I felt privileged to hear about your journey and share my own. To share tears and our stories of loss, our loved ones are always in that special place in our hearts that nobody else will touch, we just create new memories to share with them when we met again. Thank you, your hospitality, your rescue dogs and your views where amazing.
Not going to say much, going to let the pictures do the talking, we had an amazing crossing today. Aches and new blisters all worth the effort. Love this beautiful special place that is New Zealand untouched. I was surprised at the amount of people on the crossing, at times it was like a traffic jam. Smiled at grumpy smurf, (so to the dude who had so much sun screen on, it looked like he had showered in it), rub it in and smile please, otherwise you scare little kids and big ones too.