NEWLY EQUIPTED

I have to say, my timing couldn’t have been more perfect for this zero day in Auckland. This afternoon, the surrounding city was blessed with a heavy dose of thunder, lightning and a steady downpour. It didn’t last long, but it lasted long enough that I enjoyed watching from a window.

But before getting to Auckland, I had a great day of miles, one that traveled the coast just to the north, starting at Long’s Bay, passing numerous bays, beaches and bluffs before reaching the Waitemata Harbor. The trail was technically inland a wee bit, occasionally popping out onto beaches, but by using the hours both before, during and just after low-tide, I managed to make it 20 kilometers before having to head in. Along the way, I had several exceptionally fun moments of hopping, scrambling and wading along the eastern coastline. It was similar to the Hibiscus Coastal Route the day earlier, but more. In between all those secretive coves, there was a handful of beaches loaded with folks who do what all those “normal” beach-goers do: sandcastles, recline in lounge chairs and body surf in the waves. But me, I walked with a steady pace across those beaches, taking time to slow in the secretive coves. There, I was captivated by all the textures of the coast. Everything from rough, jagged volcanic rock to smooth large oblong stones. Rock rose out of the ocean, streaked across the coastal hillside and left eroded stone globes just barely hanging onto the larger masses.

It was a good section, one that will forever remain in my mind, because, as mentioned earlier, my camera keeled over and left me picture less. It wasn’t because of the story I’m about to tell, but from previous moments that left the camera just slightly wet(seriously, just a few drops) or due to those few drops, the case festered with condensation and an environment not ideal for a camera. The new story goes as such: I was walking along faster than I thought, caught by the beauty of the coast, when I reached Wairau Creek. My notes said to exit the beach prior, but I was kilometers further than I expected and soon was standing on the northern bank looking across to the southern back thinking, “hmmm, now how do you suppose I get across that.” A body of water thirty feet wide and deeper than I could guess, stood before me and the inviting beach across the way. The shoreline I was on ended a few feet later at a steep cliff. With little option, I tried to wander up through a gate explicitly saying PRIVATE, but I would have ended up in the owner’s dining room and that seemed a bit too much. I really didn’t want to backtrack and instead decided to suck it up and swim it. I put everything into a garbage bag, sealed it up, strapped my poles to the outside and went for it. Then I slipped into the water and soon realized how well I could swim with a pack on. I mean, I could fully swim, albeit with a doggy paddle, but wow! When I crawled out, dozens of spectators watched with a sort of impressed and confused interest. I gave myself a little shake, said a few joking words to one spectator, and continued on.

Today I found a replacement for my camera, as I was unsuccessful in acquiring the same model due to it being out of stock and/or exceeding $400. Instead I picked up another powershot model, the SX170 IS, which offers the same self-timer (capable of adjusting up to a 30-second delay and can shoot up to 10 or 15 shots) and it also has great manual settings. For $198, I felt like it was more than a suitable replacement. Plus, I think it’s a wee bit lighter. I bought a dry bag for it (no more messing around) and look forward to taking plenty of shots again.

Anyway, I’m proud to say I’ve put time into researching the next few towns and have organized the logistics of finding internet access. With that, you’ll be hearing from me soon. Until then, I’ll eat another bowl of ice-cream (bowl number four coming up!) and I’ll return to watching tv.

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