Today we left one of the nicest hostels we’ve been to so far, only to end up in another one just as wonderful if very different. And the hike in between was incredibly beautiful and kicked our butts! Almost daily now we’ve proclaimed the hike to be the best so far and again today, we were just blown away by the beauty of this place.
Roz leads us through the mangroves to the boats.
Roz started us out with a breakfast to die for. When we waddled out of the Tidesong B&B, we could barely make it down the hill to the mangroves and the boardwalks that led us to Hughes’s boats. Yesterday afternoon, we nearly swim through the mud here but this morning’s high tide gave us the watery world of a mangrove forested lake.
Coyote in the mangroves.
Yote and Sergio on the crossing.
All the boats were floating and Hughes used the high tide to ferry us across the estuary to connect us with the Te Araroa on the other side. After wading through the shallows we spent some time cleaning and drying our feet and giving Coyote’s cut toe a good look before we headed out hiking. She passed muster and we were off.
Hughes gets Coyote as close to shore as he can due to her injured foot. We call this the Queen of Sheba shot.
Top of Kauri Mountain.
Our first leg of the day took us up Kauri Mountain, not a difficult climb, but the view was stunning all the way up and especially from the top from which we could see the coastline stretching north and south, cut by long winding estuaries such as that we had walked yesterday at low tide.
The beach with Breem Head in the background.
The trail down was easy and took us to a shear mud wall which led to a long crescent of beach. Pahutakawa trees arched down over the cliff and we found ourselves again proclaiming today the most beautiful so far. With my penchant to wax hyperbolic, I sometimes question my own judgement of the beautiful, but the fact that both Yote and Sergio were saying the same thing lent a bit of credence to my overly positive view of the world. Could be worse.
The beach was miles long and we had it all to ourselves for hours of peaceful walking to the roar of a crashing surf. I got a bit ahead when we had to cross a small stream as Coyote didn’t want to get her injured foot wet again. She took off the shoe on her good foot and Sergio carried her pack across and then gave her a shoulder to hang onto while she hopped across the creek. I on the other hand hiked on. When I realized how far ahead I was I just lay in the sun and took a snooze till they caught up. So much for helping out an injured friend. Can’t take me anywhere!
This guy dive bombed us from behind but finally hit the sand and just squawked at us. We must have been near her nest.
When we reached the south end of the beach we had lunch in a picnic ground and then started up Breem Head, a 1,500 foot volcanic plug that looks a lot like Tahiti and some of the needles and spires on Hawaii. It started out steep and got steeper, the lovely grassy track becoming nearly vertical stairs that went on forever. By the top, I was exhausted. Yote was wiped and both of us blamed it on lunch and her injured foot. It had felt a bit like carrying a brick inside and chucking it all might have been a good option. But we’re thru hikers and we never waste food. So suck it up and climb we did. Today, Sergio had hit his stride and flew up that sucker. After weeks of foot issues he’s finally got his shoes dialed in and I think he’ll be leaving us in the dust soon.
Needle at the top.
Sergio at the top of Breem Head.
At the top we scaled a short vertical rock face to stand on top of one of the spires and we could see forever. Dense forests, bays and coves hooked all about with anchored sailboats, beaches slung wide between heads and points of land, pastures green as emerald and offshore islands dotting the distance till they bled into the infinity of the ocean mists. Ah, the Pacific. My ocean, and a real connection between my life at home and this life so far away. I love it.
I was awed and dead tired all in one at that summit but the day was hardly over, we still had to make a steep descent and then climb back up another bit of volcano, MT. Lion. We had our share of root grabbin, tree swinging BS but mainly thousands of steep steps and the most false summits ever. I’d reach what looked like the pinnacle, more dead than before, and sure I couldn’t go on any further, only to see another pinnacle ahead, a bit higher than the last. Stairs led to more stairs and I was dripping in sweat, exhausted and with only one option, to keep trudging on. After reaching the top, the only consolation was that anyone coming up in the other direction would have had it even worse. The stairs going down for us had almost no respite of trail in between. They were sheer and there were thousands of them. I started counting at one point but lost it at something over 500. And that was only about a quarter of the distance so the total was well over 2,000 at least. But MT Lion was beautiful, like so much else here, and it was worth the climb.
Balancing rock on Lion Mountain.
Step’s, countless steps!
When I finally poured out onto a grassy hillside, Sergio was already sprawled out on the lawn, exhausted as well, but very satisfied. He’s found his pace and it’s a good one. What a hiker. We watched a red headed parakeet in the branches of an old snag and then headed off to find a place for the night.
Sergio dead on the grass.
The first possibility we came to was the Green Bus Stop, a slice of jungle owned by Terry and Jenny, a couple of wonderful folks who just got into Trail Angeling last Christmas when two hikers asked for a spot to pitch their tents. Since then they’ve built a cook shed, planted a vegetable garden and turned the property’s original cottage into a hiker cottage. The grounds are a maze of jungle pathways and bits of whimsy that make you smile just by walking around the place. When we asked how much, he turned it back on us and said “It’s a deal” when we offered $15 per person, what we’d paid at Tidesong the day before. After that he and Jenny let us use their shower and did a load of very sweaty laundry for us and invited us to breakfast the next day. Quite a deal, but the best part was getting to know them. We could tell there was a good bit of depth to these two just by looking at the bookshelves and the stack of jazz sheet music on the piano.
Kiwi on a street sign.
Dinner for Yote and me was soup made from things we’d gathered along the beach, two lovely seaweeds, fennel picked on the trail and chard and collards picked in the garden on the property all thickened with fresh eggs left for us gratis in the cook shed. After dinner we checked the weather report and it’s lousy all day tomorrow with rain and heavy winds all day long. Looks like a zero day is in order. We’re dead from the day’s climb, Yote has a bum foot, it’s supposed to rain all day and we’ve got a lovely place to weather it all. After staying in one of the nicest hostels so far last night at Tidesong, we seem to have found another one to rival it here at the Green Bus Stop.
Me on the beach.
The rain began at dusk and came down all night. A warm dry place was just what we needed.