330-425 km’s: Things started to get good again south of a town called Whananaki. At this point I’ve made it down the remote beaches of the far north, walked across the width of NZ, and hopped onto the eastern shoreline. The trail took to a grassy track, one that eased gently up above the ocean. It was a breath of fresh air to be back on a natural footpath, and the views were stunning. Looking down onto the beach, i walked past houses tucked away in the secluded bays.
Again another icecream and then a hellish road walk, but lets get to the estuary and my lesson with tides. Because of the arduous road walk, and the common theme that it usually takes me ages longer to reach my destination for the end of day (be it slower pace due to bush walking, road walking or siestas…), i ended up at the Taihururu Estuary/River hours after planned. It was 9am when i arrived which was EXACTLY high tide. Hoping i could get across this waterway despite the depth of the water, i plundged in. Knee deep went stright to hip deep, then occassionally nipple deep and at that point i pulled over to take a siesta until the tide went down. As i was taking a nap, with all my gear scattered in a yard sale on the beach, the owner of the home on the hill nearby came down to the boat shed i was laying nearby. He said hello and walked back uphill. a few minutes later his three very curious and cheery daughters invited me up for a cup of tea and some lunch. We sat around talking about the general state of the trail, as they and they neighbors had all been curious as to what all these hikers were doing walking across the esturary. They had been seeing them as of late, fording across the swampy waterway that was at least the lenght of a football field. At 1pm i wandered back outside, and with the tide way low, i forded the estuary, ranging now from calf to thigh-high at its deepest.
I had another run-in with a water crossing the following day. After a spectacularly relaxing walk along the beach, and again a stop in at a coastal town for an icecream and a burger(seriusly might be the best burger ive EVER had and that includes considering Blue Pine in Bend), i reached the Waipu River. Its confluence with the ocean is a beautiful scene, somthing magical when fresh water meets the sea. I took a stab at trying to ford it at 7:30pm, but it simply wasnt in my cards. Not at that time anyway. I slept nearby, on some gorgeous sand dunes(big old dunes with spinifex and grass blowing in the gentle wind). By morning, the tide was low and i gave the passage another go. I walked out onto an island, up a sandy tounge and then lower myself into the water. A zig, a zag, a prayer to please let me across and they SUCCESS! I felt so damn proud and needed a photo. So i set up my camera and stepped back into the river(just a wee bit). That passage can be tricky, and in fact the official route (seriously dont understand this term unless it applied to a complete trail like the Appalachian Trail), is inland a short bit, on yet another road. Anyway, i started walking down the beach, watching the sun rise up with each passing footstep. A man on a bike road up beside me and seemed very impressed with my route across the river. He said he’d been watching me, and thought for a moment i wouldn’t make it, but then i zigged and sure enough landed on that glorious shoreline.