Sunday 15 November 2020 – Day 1
Departing from Paihia early ish we stopped off to pick up Paulette in Kerikeri before heading north for coffee and paua pie at Taipa then up a mostly deserted road to the cape. We made a quick side trip down Te Paki stream to the beach and happened upon two hikers at the mouth.
There was a surge in vehicles for the last few kms, slowing as the beauty of the cape revealed itself around each corner. We reached the car park and could already see 5 walkers with their packs. Nice to know that there are others commencing today. We dislodged our packs from the car under the warm sun and had a quick chat with a couple of the hikers but were keen to get to the lighthouse and underway.
The Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean were clashing in spectacular fashion today. Azures and greens separated by knarly white teeth of the two waters fighting for dominance. The outgoing tide was carrying sand out from the beach and this formed an artists swish of tan along the rocky shore beneath the cape.
A track leads down from the lighthouse to the first beach crossing. The water is crystal clear, so much so that I can see fish swimming off the beach. They were of a decent size – I’d like to say they were Kingi’s but may have been something less impressive. I pretty much jaunted along Te Werahi beach using my trekking poles in long strides. The conditions were perfect and you just couldn’t help but feel content with your lot. However on reaching the dunes at the other end the halcyon times were diminished somewhat by the steep and steady climb to the top in the beating sun. Fortunately the glorious views and interesting geology and vegetation made it less of a chore.
Another headland just to the west of Cape Reinga is Cape Maria van Diemen, which was named by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman during his journey in 1642 and thought of by him to be the northernmost point of the newly discovered country he named ‘Staten Landt’. From here the track swung to the south framed by heavily windswept manuka and other hardy plants before dropping down to Twilight beach for the last section to camp. I arrived at the steps up to the camp only to look up and be surprised by two half naked figures beaming from the top. Giles and George were off for a swim.
Twilight camp is a DOC administered campsite with communal shelter, toilets and water. Having set up my tent I was ready for a swim. By this time the boys had arrived – Boyd, Sam and Abdul were high school mates doing the Spirits Bay Te Paki loop over three days. The water was clear and fresh albeit not at its summer temperature this early in the season. Still it felt wonderful after the half day walk. Other walkers arrived into camp over the next hour or so. We ended up being nine tonight with the addition of Kat (SOBO to Wellington), Darnay and Ella (SOBO to Bluff). We had an enjoyable and convivial end to the excitement of day one under our belts and the anticipation of the next three days and almost 90km beach walk to Ahipara.