We ended today at 49.4km. We knew it’d be close to 50km and we hadn’t really set out to do 50km but it was pretty painful to see how close we ended up getting. Ultimately it will make our final few days into Wellington a little easier, if we’re able to walk in the morning.
We ended up deciding to pitch our tent on the veranda last night as the hut book talked a lot about mice. We were very grateful we did (and had our first full night’s sleep), when we heard or German friend clapping his hands inside to try and scare the mice away. In the morning he told us he hadn’t slept because of them for a good portion of the night. It did start raining during the night but even without the rainfly we’d been able to stay dry. It wasn’t great heading out into the rain but at least we knew we were heading towards town. We crossed over another swing bridge and after a few km headed up into the bush for a final summit in Tararua Forest Park.
Despite the heavy rain and thick bush the track was surprisingly nice. It was a quick 400m climb to a ridge and then a nice 2 hour walk up a gentle ridgeline to the summit. Unfortunately because of the weather we didn’t have any of the promised views of the Tararuas. We reached the summit a little before noon and started to descend before breaking for lunch. The descent was a good deal tougher than the ascent and the first part of this before lunch was a bit demoralizing to our time. We stopped for a wet lunch on a mossy log and then continued to siddle along the side of the mountain. Luckily, not to long after lunch, we dropped into Heather’s favorite terrain: pine forest. It was amazing the difference between the pine forest and native bush. All of a sudden we were moving quickly through spaced out trees on non slippy pine and the rain even seemed to stop. It wasn’t long after this that we emerged into a valley, came down a few switch backs and after going over a swing bridge popped out onto the road.
The rain had largely stopped by now and the road wasn’t bad. It was 11km on the road into Waikanae. We had clouds most of the way but as you came out of the valley you could see where the clouds stopped and stayed with the mountains. It was pretty impressive looking back and seeing rain and dark clouds in the mountains but clear blue out over the sea.
We did a quick resupply in Waikanae and filled ourselves up with some baked goods before setting off on the next section towards the beach. It was here that we would’ve usually stopped and we tried to contact a trail angel to find a spot to stay but unfortunately didn’t get a response so we decided to keep going.
The trail was really nice here and after the river walk we had a great boardwalk through swamp and forest. In this part we ran into two North Bounders who looked like they were ultralight backpackers. Their packs hardly even looked like day packs.
We popped out onto a beautiful beach around 7pm and began what would be about two hours down the beach to get to the holiday park we were aiming for at the end. The beach was a really nice walk and anything more intense we probably wouldn’t have been able to do. The sun was also perfectly positioned behind a cloud so we didn’t get burnt but had good light and great views all around.
For the last 3.5km we went through a small park next to the beach. This was really just undulating track in the sand dunes but was thankfully paved as we were running on fumes by then. We rolled off this track and right into the holiday park just after 9pm where we were crestfallen to find how close we were to 50km. Exhausted, we still managed to shower, cook dinner, and set up the tent. It’s always hard to fall asleep after a long day hiking and with not much time between ending hiking and laying down as you just feel your legs buzzing and going through pain for the first hour while your try to pretend you’re comfortable and asleep. Even though we didn’t hit 50km we’ll be within reach of Wellington tomorrow which feels great!