“Do you have any cabins available?”
We sat in Countdown in Porirua asking the question of the camp site operators still another kilometre away. The weather had turned crap again during our walking and to tent with the weather to sour worse, we weren’t in the zone to test the canvas water proofing grade.
They did and with our plastic bags of grocery items, we hobbled the remainder of what was our longest day distance walking on the whole of the North Island part.
The day started with Denise and Chris walking with us as far as Paekakariki. It was overcast but pleasant, an on-shore wind enough to keep the body temperature just nice under the pump of back pack carriage. Stopping for a cuppa at a café in Paekakariki was where we met up with someone we had met at the hostel in Paihia – Gordon. He had been following our journey and our paths managed to cross again today.
Pie shops are an addiction and we just had to savour one for the road before we parted company with Gordon, Chris and Denise. It had been an amazing three days with folk, it kind of felt our start towards the transition back into suburbia habitat. People, food, beer and pies.
Walking the remainder of the trail will be our final salute to the North Island generosity imposed on us throughout the adventure. The next bit we encountered was the Paekakariki Escarpment.
It’s a relatively new track from Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay and runs high above State Highway 1 and railway, reaching 220 metres above sea level. There is gradient with the help of wooden stairs; two swing bridges to maintain height; and sometimes fencing to negate track erosion or human tumble! The views are spectacular and although the wind was sometimes blustery along the 10 km stretch, we would rate it as being a fantastic part of the Te Araroa Trail.
After reaching Pukerua Bay, we made the decision to keep pushing forward until Porirua.
It was on this section that we passed the Taupo Swamp. The 30-hectare wetland area is the largest remaining swamp where harakeke (flax) is harvested, surviving more than 150 years of human-induced change. We tried to imagine all the flowers in full bloom.
It wasn’t long before the drizzle started to descend from the sky above. Generally you would pick up the pace somewhat however, given the distance we had already walked, just moving forward was the focus.
The relief to un-shoulder our back packs was a tremendous feeling. We had cracked the 35 km distance in a day’s walk. Consider that the closest to this was when we did the 30 kms on Ninety Mile Beach. We were happy with the achievement and know part of the adrenalin is because we are only two days out from finishing.
The orange street lights of Porirua ignited the city. It wasn’t long before they too became hazy as the drizzle became more solid rain. There is something to be said about the pitter patter of droplets on a roof.
Thank goodness it wasn’t a bl..dy canvas one!