Linda and Marius were great company and Irene was a great hostess. Our room was spacious with two beds, a table, a closet, a bathroom and a bar of soap. Georges and I immediately took showers and I did laundry in the sink. Fighting the urge to simply lay down and rest, G and I went out and cleaned the highly contagious sand from our gear. With clean clothes hanging up to dry and our gear freshly packed, we hung out in the kitchen with Irene while she started dinner. I couldn’t drink enough coffee fast enough. Irene is the mother of five grown children and purchased the bed and breakfast long ago. She told us about the local area (of nothingness) and we swapped stories of very different Christmas traditions. Marius and Linda joined us and we moved out to the living room to sit and chat until dinner. Marius and Linda do a lot of hiking. They are both doctors and are taking five years to section hike the Te Araroa without any camping. They hike each day and have made arrangements for their evening accommodations to pick them up and drop them off at the trail. It’s a pretty sweet idea. We talked about different trails they’ve done and what gear we all carry.
Dinner included steak, fried onions and mushrooms to top the steak, mixed greens salad with tomatoes, carrots, onion and raspberry vinaigrette, beet roots, and potatoes including local kumra (sweet potatoes). Over dinner we talked about our plans for the trail. Marius and Linda had tons of insight into what we should, shouldn’t, and could do for our tracks and they invited us to stay at their house when we get to Hamilton City. The most important thing they mentioned is, “In you, not on you.” This is a backpacking philosophy which makes life-saving sense. Rather than carry three liters of water for a section (6.6 pounds of water), drink two at the water source and carry only one. Rather than carry tons of food, eat when you have access in town and get by with less when you are on the trail. G and I agreed this would be our new practice and served ourselves seconds at dinner.
We told them of our many adventures gathered from only our first two days and they watched knowingly, telling us of the hundreds more adventures in store for us. As the night grew late we went our separate ways and tucked in for the night.
In a warm, comfy bed; well fed and clean, we slept peacefully. With no wind to speak of.
In the morning, we committed to not going back to the beach with Linda and Marius but rather hitching our way down the windless center of the northern peninsula to Kaitaia for groceries and then shortly past that to Ahipara, the first town off the beach. Irene took us to the local dairy and we set off from there. Having taken Linda and Marius first, she mentioned the beach looked as rough today as it had yesterday. 🙂
We walked while we hitched and enjoyed several hours (there was very little traffic heading south) of sunshine, horses and houses. We got a ride after two hours from a young guy named Reweti.
Reweti took us the forty-five minutes to the grocery store in Kaitaia. A very fun guy, we talked lots about pig hunting (as both Georges and Reweti pig hunt using dogs) and cultural differences between New Zealand, the US and Luxembourg. Reweti also told us the secrets of hitching and offered to pick us up after we did our shopping and take us to the ideal spot from which to hitch down to Ahipara.
At the grocery store, we resupplied our muesli bars and tortillas. We also added dehydrated peas and salami to our pantry. For that day’s lunch we got huge chocolate pastries, bananas, chicken flavored potato chips, G got an apple and Coke and I got an avocado. Reweti picked us back up and drove us south of town. He dropped us at a prime hitching location and told us Ahipara was only another 15 k or so down the road. We got a ride in only a couple minutes and were shortly on the outskirts of Ahipara.
In Ahipara we walked for about an hour to get to the hostel which was close to the end of Ninety Mile Beach. Again enjoying our stroll through the local community, we found the hostel easily. There were no dorm beds left so we got an ensuite (with bathroom) room with bunk beds.
No soap in this one, but towels. 🙂 We unpacked, had lunch in the kitchen and I started laboriously working on these blog posts. Georges explored the grounds and met the other folks in our little bunk house. Several of whom were hiking the Te Araroa–we finally met other people like us!
First was Ben–the French guy with a very heavy pack. Then was ‘the three Germans’, and lastly was the Italian guy (who I now know is called Pedro). Georges spent much of the evening talking to Ben, and Ben will stay with us for days to come. Ben’s a little guy but seems plenty strong. His pack probably weighs fifty to sixty pounds and has things strapped and hanging all over the outside. Another warm night, we slept well feeling excited for the next day. By skipping two identical days of flat beach walking, we had recovered the days we lost when our flights were canceled and delayed. We were back on schedule (for the time being) and we were completely satisfied with having met Linda, Marius, Irene and Reweti instead of dead seals and a few more sea shells.