We started the day in Kerikeri, about two and a half hours drive South of Cape Reinga. On the recommendation of our hostel host we attempted to hitch hike our way up (the alternative was a $70/pp tourist bus).
Five different rides later and at about 1:30pm we arrived at the Cape feeling fairly exhausted and very hot. Our final ride was with a Canadian and his family who had completed the trail a few years ago and he have us a few helpful tips for the first few days to get us going. His girlfriend also to the obligatory starting photos for us. After a brief pause, we got underway with the first leg of the beach and a short (in comparison to the coming days) ~12.5km hike to the Twilight Camp. We’d anticipated a fairly easy start but this was anything but that. The trail immediately dropped down to the beach and despite thinking we’d timed the tides we had a hairy navigation across a volcanic outcrop hanging over the ocean. The first day encompassed everything that we’d heard about coming across on the TA (we’re not yet sure if that’s a good or bad thing) and by the time we got to camp at about 6pm we were absolutely exhausted and feeling quite worn down. A couple highlights from the trail included the lava rock I already mentioned, a dead penguin (?), many vertical up and down sections (no switch backs in New Zealand), and several wrong turns and time spent looking for the correct signs. We also had our first water crossing, we were told we needed to time the tide and thought we had but apparently got it exactly wrong. We both got fully submerged feet in the Pacific for the first, and probably not last, time on the hike (hence the title). All that being said there were incredible views the entire way (think Hawaii crossed with Brighton coastline and throw in some crazy rock colors and formations). The stairs at the end of the beach led us up to the campsite and our first day complete. To our complete surprise we ran into a group of Maori already at the campsite who’s tribal land we were on. They were super friendly and even offered some delicious fresh fish they’d caught that day. I never thought I’d end the first day of hiking with a plate of delicious sashimi! We’re glad to have ended day 1 on a high note and are heading off to bed after watching a beautiful sunset from our tent. Anxious and ready for the challenging days to come.