Palmy to Wellington
The end of the north island! Incredible to think that over two months ago I began this journey at Cape Reinga, unbeknown to what I would encounter along the way.
To begin I want to reflect on a few things.
One aspect of the trail that I never really considered was encountering other TA hikers. Having researched the trail I knew full well that Seb and I were beginning at the end of the season. Any later and we would run the risk of encountering winter in the South Island and therefore dangerous rivers and snow dumps. With this in mind I expected to run into little or no TA hikers. Boy was I wrong! What started out as a duo has now turned into a family of more than ten. For me hiking to begin with was enjoying the resulting view at the end. Thankfully now I can say that I hike to enjoy the same view but with those who I can rely on for support and encouragement on and off the trail from now on.
Something else worth reflecting upon is the insight tramping has given me regarding a need vs a want. Before beginning the trail I was fixated on material goods and found myself spending what I now consider outrageous amounts of money for items I simply didn’t need. By removing myself from that environment I now have a clearer mindset of what I truly need in life. All by adopting a more simple lifestyle!
Lastly an appreciation for the little things. A hot shower, clean clothing, soft bed and fresh food are all things that I relish now. If you see me after I finish you won’t find me complaining.
Returning to the trail!
With Palmy behind me I headed straight for Levin through the small township of Shannon. Upon entering Shannon at 10:30pm I encountered a young man by the name of Tim. To my surprise he had heard about the TA and had mountain biked sections on the east coast! Before long Tim had offered a place for me to stay and some amazing food to suit. Showing me around the self sustainable farming commune it was refreshing to see a earth house on the property. Having a construction background I got quite excited by the fact that Tim worked on the structure and to that day had never inspected one in person. Upon leaving a traditional Gaelic blessing was spoken by my host and I was on my way towards the Tararuas!
Reaching the beginning of the Tararuas I was ecstatic to encounter my second alpine region on the trail. Having little tramping knowledge prior to the TA new environments where both a learning experience and a exhilarating ride. Upon reaching the first hut I encountered a group of six section hikers that introduced me to an amazing word game called bananas grams. Soon after we had dinner together and I was treated to freshly cooked steak and red wine! Unexpected to say the least. The following day was a 12km adventure of alpine regions within the Tararuas. With incredible 360 degree views of the surrounding alpine area we then made our way towards the summit of Mount Crawford taking rest just short at Nicols Hut. This beautiful hut was nestled in between two ridges, providing an amazing view southward down the Tararua ranges. The following day we summited Mount Crawford at 1462 meters and took in the views! Pushing on we descended the ranges and ended up at Otaki Forks, just shy of Waikanae. We encountered our first beach in over 800km on the Kapiti Coast after venturing west from Waikanae. The following 3 days we went southward towards Wellington, passing through Porirua and climbing Colonial knob to our first view of the capital!
Two days later I completed the North Island with the trail family that once came to being in Whananaki. The North Island has been an eye opening experience full of hardship, thrills, uncertainty and excitement. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
Onward to the South Island!