Jonathan and I had an absolutely stunning start to Te Araroa. It was sunny and warm with a cool breeze. The perfect day for a walk on the beach.
Camping along the beach here is incredibly restricted, which lead to a bit of a dilemma: walk 14km (~8 miles) and sit around in camp all afternoon, or push for 40km (~25 miles) and potentially arrive after dark. We arrived at the start close to 11am, but, excited to get moving, we opted to push for a long first day.
And our first day was pretty glorious.
We frolicked barefoot in the surf, applied and reapplied (and reapplied) sunscreen, and generally rejoiced in our new life on the trail.
Even in the sunshine, though, the beach is hard on your body. Somewhere around mile 20, the sand started feeling like concrete. We limped into camp around 9:30pm.
Luckily, the next day was all sunshine and rainbows...
Except that rainbows come from rain. And on Day 2, things got rainy.
And then not rainy...
And then rainy again... about every hour.
Once you hit 90 Mile Beach, there are no breaks from the sand. You try to walk as close to the water as possible so that you don't just slide around with every step, but the hard sand is brutal on your body and there's no protection from the elements.
With the frequent rainstorms came constant wind. When things were dry enough for us to sit down for a break, the sand would blow into our eyes and our food. As anyone who has spent time in the desert can attest, sand is the glitter of the natural world. It just. Gets. Everywhere.
Maybe 3 miles from the end, we also got hailed on. And not tiny, wimpy hail, either. Big, chunky hail that was blowing sideways at our bare legs (and came on so fast we didn't even have time to put on the rain kilts). Let's just say that the storm ended with us crouched in the fetal position for several minutes as we waited for it to pass.
So, when you say you like long walks on the beach... exactly how long were you thinking?