Maunganui Bluff to Utea Park
At 4am I was awoken suddenly by lightening and thunder like nothing I have ever experienced before. The flashes were only seconds apart and the thunder was intense. It lasted for a few hours. I was lying in my tent not knowing what to do. I felt extremely vulnerable to a lightening strike in my little tent out in the paddock. Then there was a particularly large flash and simultaneous bang right on top of me. I bolted out of my tent in the pouring rain, and into the shelter where Julian, Fabian and Geram were sleeping. They were sitting up watching the storm. I stood at the entranceway and chatted while the storm continued. The heavy rain was pooling on the concrete floor at the foot of their beds. I used one of their hiking poles to dig a trench at the entrance which drained the water completely. They were very grateful. When the weather got better I went back to my tent to try get some sleep.
Once everyone was up again we were all preparing for the 30km walk to Utea Park. Julian reported there was a family of wild horses grazing around my tent about 30 minutes after I went to bed last night. I was gutted that I missed that. Luckily I saw heaps further up the beach. Julian’s knee is buggard so he is going to walk 8kms out to the main road then hitch hike into Kaitaia so he can rest it for a few days.
So basically it was more of the same today. Walking down a bloody long beach. My feet are always aching badly so I just have to push through the pain. And it doesn’t stop when you take your boots off. My ankles and feet are getting rashes now. I need some antiseptic cream. But no blisters! Blisters can hold you up for days if you let them get bad. Many Te Araroa hikers before me have not made it this far because of bad blisters. Some even end up in hospital. I take very good care of my feet and when I feel a hot spot starting I will stop and tape it or pack it with Hikers Wool before it turns into a blister.
When I arrived at Utea Park I was greated by Tania who runs the place. She welcomed me in, pulled out a chair and told me to sit down. Went straight to the kitchen to get me water and sat and chatted with me. Her husband and another local were there as well and we all chatted for a while about my experience to date. They told me stories of many TA hikers they have seen arrive in a bad state, even collapsing, which gave me some confidence as I was feeling not too bad. The last 5kms were very hard but I was aiming for the large green flag in the distant dunes and knowing there was reception, hot showers, a cabin and smoothies kept me going! Tania gave me my own cabin. Very basic but I appreciated not having to pitch the tent and having the space to unpack and move around.
Back in the mess area I spoke to a few friendly locals and then a new TA hiker Michael who was travelling to Cape reinga to start the next day.
I called home for the first time. It was so good to talk to them and I felt reenergised.