Otaki Forks to Waikanae Beach
Another early start for me and Jesse. We left at 7am. We crossed the swing bridge over the Waiotauru river and then walked down the metal road to the carpark where the track up Pukeatua mountain begins. It is a very big hill at 812m abs. The first 400m of the ascent was hard work. My legs were tired and I was really struggling to find the energy. I have felt this way many times before though so I knew that after an hour or so I would be fine. It takes a while sometimes to get all the muscles warmed up and blood pumping efficiently through your veins. All of a sudden you just take off and can grind through the hard parts without slowing down. That’s when I feel the best too. It’s a real mental high.
At the top it was cloudy so missed out on some great views. We came down real quick as the track was in much better condition than we have had for some time. There were a few fallen trees and muddy patches but nothing too challenging. It took us just over four hours. Two hours faster than we expected. The track opened up on to recently harvested timber forest and we followed the logging track out to Mangaone South road. There was a stream crossing and then another swing bridge too. 10kms of road walking to Waikanae. We planned to stop half way at a cafe so kept up the pace only to find it was closed. When we got to Waikanae we saw Caroline and chatted to her for a while about what it was like. She knows she could have done it too but said she just got really scared the night before and could not shake it. She was waiting for Freek to come out behind us. We did our washing at a laundromat and went to a cafe, then the supermarket for resupply and subway while we waited for it to finish. Josh caught up to us in town and we walked another 5kms to El Rancho holiday park at Waikanae Beach following the Waikanae river track all the way there. I was very tired and very relieved to have finished the Tararua ranges. We got a room for $60 with bunks and kitchenette. So only $20 each which is the same as a camp site each. I had my first shower in five days.
The finish line is close now. I am so proud of what I have achieved and how far I have come. It has been an amazing journey and an experience that I will cherish forever but at the same time I am so happy to be finishing and coming home.
I have learnt a lot about myself and what I am capable of but I think it will take a while to fully reflect on the whole journey. So more on that to come.
A well known quote that has helped me through some hard days and climbs…
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves” – Sir Edmund Hillary