Maunganui Bluff Campsite(km41)-Karaka Stream (km82)
Wow, I just realized that I walked the same amount today that I did in the first 2 days! Well, Day 1 was really only a half or quarter day. But yeah, I was on a roll today. I started just before 7 a.m. and had already caught up to Catrin by 8. She had gotten up at 4 a.m. and was rewarded by seeing wild horses playing on the beach at sunrise. I had actually seen the horses roll through our camp when I woke up but her description of them galloping and rearing on the beach, with the full moon in the background, made me wish I had got moving even earlier. Poor Catrin said she was going to try to get a hitch to town as her feet were done-done. I felt really sorry for her and it’s too bad, cause I really got to like her in the short time that I talked to her. She’s a biologist as well. Hopefully she will be able to heal fully in town and resume her journey.
There were more wildlife sightings today, mostly birds. Being that I am pretty familiar with seabirds and shorebirds, I got a good list going: gannets, 2 different types of gulls, Caspian terns, white fronted terns, variable oyster catchers, stilts, plovers, dotterels, cormorants (called shags here), herons, and something that looked like a kingfisher. I found several dead gannets on the beach, plus a dead seal, and tons of dead fish. It was also a great day for shells. I found several paua, the NZ abalone. I couldn’t resist picking up a nice small conch-like shell. My only souvenir.
I don’t know many of the species here but I at least know what genus they belong to. I am particularly impressed by the oyster catchers…there’s seems to be a pair just about every km. In the US they are on the decline due to loss of habitat but on this lengthy and undeveloped beach, they seem to be doing fine.
The sun begin to wear on me pretty early in the day. I took a short break at 10, already halfway done with the 18 miles to the next campsite. I got to Utea (means heaven in Maori) at 1:30 and decided to make it my lunch break. I had originally planned to camp here but it was far too early to stop. I met Huck and Steady as they were heading out. They both just hiked the PCT and are from the US. I had heard from others that they were just ahead and this gave me incentive to try to keep up. I gotta admit that knowing somebody is just in front of me makes me really anxious to try to catch them. It was nice to take a break in the shade at Utea, though. There’s water, showers, toilets and even little kittens to play with. I was really hoping to meet the proprietor Tanya but she was away. I would later get to meet her on the beach as she was driving by and stoped to say hi and offer water. In the short time that I got to talk to her I could tell she was a really awesome lady.
The sun was doing a number on my legs again. The backs and tops of my knees are sunburned, despite my best efforts. Today I even wore my rain skirt pulled down low for awhile just to keep the sun off a little bit. I also smeared a lot of sunscreen on them. I guess maybe I should just wear my tights but it’s too hot. In the end, I used my umbrella to provide the only shade for miles. At least my feet were not too badly burned from yesterday. The UV rays are the most intense here because there is a hole in the ozone layer. Australians and New Zealanders have the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world and I can see why.
I left Utea around 2:20 and hiked for as long as my body would let me. Right when my feet were about to give out, I found a really nice stream with a good campsite and called it at 6:30pm. I would have liked to have put in a 30 mile day on only my third day but 25 is way better than I even hoped for. This will put me into town pretty early tomorrow, giving me plenty of time to get business situated. I need to buy a little extra food, eat a hamburger, and maybe take a shower at the hostel. I don’t think I’ll spend the night there but rather try to camp in the forest, yay! The beach is almost done and so far I have just one blister, on my left pinky toe.