Twilight Beach campground (km12)-Maunganui Bluff Campsite (km41)
It was the first full day of mostly beach walking on Ninety Mile Beach, a stretch of beach that is actually only 50mi/80km long. It feels like 90 miles when you have to walk it. I woke around 4am, still feeling the effects of jet-lag, so I worked on my blog and enjoyed the sunrise/moonset.
My abode for the next 4 months.
I decided to take a lazy morning, figuring I would have plenty of time to make it the 29kms to The Bluff campsite, not to be confused with Bluff, the end of the trail over 3000 km away still. I chatted with Shannon, giving pointers on how to setup her Solplex more easily. She has some nice lightweight gear but it is all new to her. In addition to the tent, we have the same headlamp and pot. She also wins the prize for having the most unusual item carried: wolve’s teeth. I haven’t a clue why she has them, she just does.
I didn’t start the trail until around 8:40 am, which is really late for me. The first couple of kms were through bush and headlands. I caught up to Damian and Kess right as the trail dropped to the beach. They were the first to leave camp this morning.
I hung with them most of the day since it was nice to pass the time with others to talk to. These next few days can wreak havoc on a walker’s feet and mindset. I didn’t find it too monotonous since I really like walking beaches in general. I also used to work on ships, staring out over endless ocean for months on end, so I easily find ways to see different things in seemingly unchanging landscapes. In fact, the beach changed quite a bit throughout the day. There is a very gradual slope to this beach, so when the tide goes out, it is as much as 150 meters wide. The sand is also very hard-packed. Because of this, the tour buses drive right on the beach all the way up and down.
It was weird to be hiking along with trucks, vans and full-size buses screaming by at 60 mph or more. Many locals use the beach to commute to/from work each day. There are even cop cars that patrol for speeders. We took a couple breaks near streams and walked barefoot for a few hours. This might have been a mistake because I got a little too much sun on the tops of my feet. The sun has been very intense today. I started off using my umbrella but had to put it away because the headwind was too strong… not for the umbrella to handle but the resistance it caused was annoying. It’s a good thing I had my arms sleeves and buff for my face. I ended up grabbing some of Damian’s sunscreen for my legs. He has plenty to go around, a whole liter in fact! Aussies take their skin cancer risks very seriously. It was nice to get to know Kess a little bit better. I found out that she is only 18 years old and decided to hike the TA just 2 weeks ago. She is doing her gap year and has been in New Zealand for 2 months already. Unfortunately, she was also suffering from HPS so I tried to give her some pointers on how to drop some pack weight. I also lent her one of my trekking poles, as she has none and could greatly benefit from them. Her feet were pretty blistered by the end of the day from her boots. Hikers wearing trail runners seem to fare a lot better on the long beach and road walks than those wearing boots. The last few kilometers dragged but we got into camp around 5 p.m. leaving plenty of time to relax and clean up. There were 2 others there, Kevin from France and Catrin from Berlin but now living in Dunedin, NZ. She too was suffering horribly from blisters bad enough to make her take a zero day (no hiking) at the camp. So far my feet are doing good but I definitely could not hike anymore today. Tomorrow I may try to get a pretty early start and see how far I can get.