Sun 17 January – Day 65
Today is to be another big day in terms of distance for the walk from Koitiata through to Bulls. The first half of the day is 14km along the beach then cut through forest and farmland to the 14km road walk section to Bulls. I awoke to a dry tent. No condensation at all. Maybe the gentle breeze kept it off. Not sure but it is nice to pack away a dry tent. I made a coffee and had a little snack then set off across to the beach through the loose black sand. Seeing the river mouth this morning I imagine it is probably shallower than where I crossed yesterday on the official trail. The river is low with little rain plus the tide is out. I will benefit from a waning tide this morning allowing me to walk on the harder sand closer to the low water level rather than up in the soft sand negotiating around the timber debris. Low tide is 13:30. It would take me twice as long if the tide was in. 14km is a long way to walk on a beach that doesn’t change dramatically from start to finish. I haven’t had to do this since northland. I pass the time picking out items of interest, artistry in the debris, patterns in the sand and watching the continuous breaking of waves. I practice the Maori national anthem, a throwback from my 2017 walk, and often fall into a daze to walk semi-consciously. I could listen to music too if I wanted to. After three hours I can turn off the beach when I reach the stream near the fire watch tower. It is positioned to look for fires in the Santoff Forest which adjoins the airforce bombing area. Not a place we’re allowed to venture into. There are no TA markers so I go in the general direction following a quad track and my TA app for guidance. I do appear to be somewhat off course but push on regardless as I will reach the road if I continue straight through the farm I am on. There are lots of curious cattle and gates to pass through which I diligently latch properly behind me. I chuckle at the final gate at the no trespassing sign. Woops that was me.
In hindsight I would have preferred to walk the beach again than the road to Bulls which is inanely dull. I got drenched in water by a pivot and ate blackberries from the roadside. Those were the only standouts believe me. I tried to hitch but no one would stop. It felt like penance I had to endure. My feet were tired. What a relief when I reached Bulls to be greeted by a plum tree hanging over the footpath literally begging me to have some fruit. The branches bent down by their weight. I happily gorged before the final couple of hundred metres into town, stopping at the first of many life sized bulls that adorn it in a clever marketing campaign that celebrates the name of the town. Bull is used figuratively in naming the businesses and services. Tonight I am looking forward to staying with a trail angel, Loïc whose hospitality I have read about. It is all I have read about and more. I am in admiration of his unwavering generosity. He also has a self contained Airbnb unit if anyone is after an overnight in Bulls.