Tuesday 17 November – Day 3
I think most of us woke at the crack of dawn. My tent has a raised storm fly that allows a view underneath so I could watch the waves roll in from the comfort of my sleeping pad. It had been a breezy night however was warmer than the previous night which made for a great sleep. Darnay Ella and I were first away, setting out onto the beach with the warm morning rays on the face. We had sunburnt backs of our knees where we had forgotten to apply sunscreen. Won’t fall for that mistake again.
We all three had about a km or so apart from each other but as is the way we will cross over during the day, walk together, walk apart, with no necessity to do anything other than one’s own walk. As the thought of the 30 km walk dawned on me I dug for my headphones and flicked on Spotify only to be greeted with no songs downloaded and absolutely no coverage. Bugger.
Okay I will need to focus on something else. I noticed that there were some dead puffer fish today. It may be interesting to count how many I see over the course of the day. Counting in Te Reo Maori I got to rua tekau and of course wondered why there are so many and of this species only – I didn’t see any other dead fish and on the other days did not see puffer fish. Someone suggested later that they may have been cast offs from a fishing boat catch. I don’t know.
To my left I noticed a grey Heron following me along the beach. Just as one might believe fantails are fluttering around you because you are so adorable I wondered if the Heron had nothing better to do than accompany a human along the beach? On closer inspection it was flying between clumps of seaweed looking for food. I daresay having a feast of sand hoppers found amongst the moist fronds. I named her Jane Heron and we travelled down the beach for a couple of hours together.
Again there were shellfish beds galore along this section. To help alleviate boredom I would stop and see how the pipis were reacting to the changing tide. It was quite remarkable and easily overlooked. As the tide would first begin to wash over the beds the pipis would push themselves out of the sand to the surface. They would then use their tongue to pull their shell into a vertical position and with each movement would eject a jet of seawater. It’s this mechanism that we take advantage of when collecting shellfish – a few hours or overnight in a bucket of water and the shellfish are clean of sand, ready for cooking.
For the next few hours the shellfish filter the seawater above them until at such time the sea recedes and they clam shut and submerge under the sand again. It was a interesting distraction for the day for sure. Especially as this section was literally walking walking walking beach beach and more beach.
It was nearing 3:30pm and my feet were tired. I had reached Hukatere and turned in off the beach to find Hukatere Lodge. The sign read 200 metres away but it could have been two kilometres for it was a uncomfortable gravel road and I just wanted to be there already. However on the side of the road was Matt from Bay of Island Tours, so I had a quick chat with him.
It was with immense relief that I reached the lodge and to be handed a beer by the delightful owner Gabi. Ma, Pa and Paulette were already ensconced on the balcony with drinks in hand having a wail of a time like old mates. I pulled off my shoes to reveal a cracker of a blister on my right foot which Paulette skillfully administered to. We joked that the covered porch of the lodge was reminiscent of the old convalescent homes as Paulette and I sat in the sun with legs elevated.
If you are in the area I would highly recommend Hukatere Lodge B&B. There are five rooms, a large open plan kitchen, dining, lounge and a back deck with BBQ area. It is off grid with solar power and Gabi is such a delight as I have mentioned already. Paulette cooked up an amazing dinner of fresh mussels, salad, potatoes, sausages and steak. Delicious. I was early to bed, rounding out a great day, not before downloading my Spotify library..