Nothing like ticking off a few ‘firsts’ in one go… Not only my first solo hike but my first 100km hike on a beach! It was very challenging but at the same time very exhilarating and totally immersed me head first into nature. Just the way I like it.
Unfortunately Belle and I had to part ways after the first 6 hours due to a flare up of an old hip injury of hers, but after a shuffle of equipment between packs I headed on down the long and empty beach on my own. All boundaries disappeared as the full realisation hit me that I was out in the middle of nowhere with no one around for miles. Just me and the birds, the waves, the seashells, jellyfish, driftwood, and the wind. Camping in the dunes, going to sleep with the sunset and waking up with the sunrise.
Over four and a half days I hiked along the long and largely straight coastline. With very few reference points to navigate from, the GPS was extremely handy for letting me know exactly where I was, and for helping me find the stream beds for topping up water supplies (or dry dream beds as was often the case). It’s very disappointing when water is getting low to find the ‘stream’ marked on the map is in actual fact a damp area densely filled with reeds and trampled on the edges by wild horses hooves. Not an ideal place to fill up. On day three I was forced to camp with only 1 1/2 litres of water to last me until the end of the next days hike. To top it off, that next days hike saw me high in the soft sand dunes as the king tides swallowed up my lovely firm beach. For the last hour and a half I staggered like Lawrence of Arabia over the dunes, tripping over grass roots buried in the sand, gasping for water. With about 100 ml of water left I made it to Hukatere where a water tank was a very welcome sight.
So what does one do whilst walking alone on Ninety Mile Beach? Put the headphones in and have a little boogie while you walk of course! (After a quick check to make sure there are no 4WD’s sneaking up).
So in four and a half days of hiking I got sunburnt, pelted on by bullets of rain, and walked for hours on unforgiving hard flat sand. Once you figure out how to turn the pain receptors off it was really enjoyable and I was on a high afterwards.
Today is my second rest day in Kaitaia and tomorrow I begin an apparently tough and steep journey through the forests from west coast to the east coast which will take another week.
Until then friends….