Start: Cape Reigna (0km)
Finish: Ahipara (101km)
Distance for the day: (101km)
Cumulative distance: (101km)
Today was the start of the expedition and my first steps on the Te Aroara trail. The starting point is Cape Reigna lighthouse on the northern tip of New Zealand, a building which guards the dangerous peninsula and the swirling waters where the Tasman and Pacific Oceans meet below. It’s an iconic landmark, and particularly special this morning with clear blue skies and a real tropical feel.
|Heading out to the start point at Cape Reigna lighthouse|
|The classic finger post at the start. 1,452km to Bluff (as the crow flies, not via Te Araroa!)|
I set off a few minutes after 7am. The first drama of the expedition – there will be many more – came when all three of our alarm clocks failed to go off resulting in a slightly delayed start to the run! I had hoped to get going half an hour earlier but given there was no harm done, we all found it very amusing. The first 20kms varied between volcanic rock, grassy tracks and short beach sections. It was very enjoyable, and I was like a lion out the cage - so eager to be starting my journey on the trail.
|Refuelling on Ninety Mile Beach|
But then it was straight into Ninety Mile Beach; a mind boggling continuous stretch of wild beach with noisy crashing waves which goes on for at least 50, but thankfully not 90 miles (not too sure where the name came from?). It’s another incredible piece of geography, but after the first few kilometres, not massively enjoyable. In fact, it’s got a reputation for sending through hikers (Te Aroara full trail hikers) a little bit mad, and if I had to spend 5 days walking it like most do, I think I would too. So I had a sneaky aim to get it out the way in one day, which I did manage in the end, but it was a long 13 hour day to achieve that goal. 100 kilometres in the first day is a little bit aggressive I’m happy to admit, but they are easy miles and the temptation to secure them quickly was too great, and I know for instance the next few days will be a lot slower so the distances will probably average out. Make hay whilst the sun shines as they say. I didn’t see many people on the beach unfortunately, so the only real entertainment came from dodging cars, tourist coaches and trucks which are all allowed to drive on the beach as a public highway. Surely unique?
|The loneliness of the long distance runner - particularly on Ninety Mile Beach|
For Mark, James and I the first few days are really going to be all about building a manageable and sustainable routine which we will follow for the whole expedition. We have already learnt a lot from today, like how much better the coca cola would taste if it was cold; cold bag required for the crew then :o) Tomorrow I head east towards the west coast, crossing some impressible looking terrain all clad in dense forests. Far more stimulating I hope….