Distance Covered: 19 km
Two major goals for today: get up early and get to the Ngunguru crossing point. We weren't feeling confident about our site, in spite of the locals' assurance and the lack of signs. So at the crack of dawn (about 5:45), we got up and packed. We ate breakfast at the table while the seagulls flew in and gathered on the grassy knoll. Well before 7 AM we were on our way. Personally, this is the way I'd prefer it every day... get going while it's cool and the air is stable. Then, with the time gained, maybe take a nap after lunch. I would say I'm in the minority for the group we walk with, though. 9 AM start times are pretty standard.
But today was also pushing a little because we had to meet our estuary crossing boat in the afternoon and we had 19 km to go. So off we went, winding first through town and then up, up into the hills and along the ridge. A little rainy, but not too bad.
One site I really enjoyed was the Tane Meona Kauri tree. It is quite old (at least 500 years) and is the largest Kauri on the east coast. They don't grow too tall, instead growing wide. It feels like something large is nearby, even if you're not looking at it.
Then it was down, down to the road for more pavement and cement walking. It's beating us up, doing it day after day. I no longer have blisters, but deep foot pain. It feels like internal structures have micro cracks and tendons are swollen. When we sit down and rest, we can feel our feet expanding and it's painful.
The good news is that we made it into town by 12:30 and were largely done for the day. Huzzah! We made our way to a cafe where I had a lamb and capsicum (bell peppers) pie and Emily had a sausage roll. Then some shopping. Prices are very high here... a bag of cereal can easily be 10 or 15 dollars, for instance. Just a couple days of staple foods like pasta and tuna can run us $60 or more.
But then, a nap! It was cold and drizzling, sometimes raining. Being homeless, we found a tree by the main road and sheltered under it. I set up my umbrella and gear to mostly block it and passed out for an hour. One of our mottos is 'No Shame' as we find ourselves often doing things we never would back home, but do here out of necessity and lack of alternatives. This picture was taken from under the tree.
Our Cyprus friend arrived in town a little while later so we made our way back to the cafe for more delicious food. We met our ride, James, a little after 4 for the crossing. For $10 he picks you up and takes you across, saving about 16 km of road walking to make it 200 meters across the estuary. He also runs a nice little camping spot and gives a discounted rate for hikers. The river didn't look too bad at low tide.
We opted to stay and enjoy an easy-ish day. We also got showers in the fun outdoor shower and met a lot of new hikers. A couple of locals, an Alaskan, one from Oregon, Kentucky, and a German. So far it seems there are just as many women if not more women than men.
Tomorrow is supposed to have two river crossings on foot that the notes strongly warn about. And 21 km of roads too...