Tue 19 to Thu 21 January – Day 67 – 69
Combined about 40km
This post covers three days as I travel between Feilding and Paekakariki. The weather has taken an unseasonable turn which has affected my original plan. This was to follow the trail from Palmerston North to Levin, then cross the Tararua Ranges, deviating off the TA to Greytown. It should take four days to cross. The Tararuas are unforgiving, many have underestimated the changeable conditions to their peril. I want to wait until I will have fine weather and hopefully little to no wind to cross as much of the crossing is on the exposed tops. Fantastic views await but not if it is howling or smothered in cloud. Te Araroa hikers are congregating in Palmerston North waiting out the weather. It is a two or three day hike to the start of the Tararua Ranges proper. I did it in 2017 so have less inclination nor need to do it again if it doesn’t fit my plan. Trail angels in the city are full with hikers and it’s an opportunity to restock and take stock of the upcoming section to the Kapiti Coast for many. I’d guess there must be about 20 hikers nearby. The forecast is iffy on and off for the next week so I decide to skip ahead, walk some other sections around Wellington and then return to the Tararuas when summer weather returns. As I have completed all of the TA through Wellington before I will have the opportunity to do more non-Te Araroa hikes instead. My plan forms during the time in Palmy – I’ll bus forward to Waikanae to walk some sections then head to Wellington for more walking. That done I can return to Levin for the Tararua crossing.
It’s raining on Tuesday morning. John offers to take me to Palmerston North, where he works, but I decline as I don’t mind giving the walk a go today despite the weather. In Feilding the rain increases and I am buffeted by the wind blasts. As I near the train station the bus to the city arrives so I think bugger it, I’ll get a ride. The $2.50 fare is worth it as soon after I’m dry in Palmy and have the day to do errands. My shoes need replacing as does my shirt and I want to visit the DOC office to determine how to cross the Tararua Ranges to the Wairarapa. It takes me much of the day to accomplish however I have a new merino long sleeve shirt (no tears holes and rips) and received excellent personalised assistance from a DOC officer on routes in the ranges between Levin and Greytown. In the afternoon I walk to the home of my trail angel for the night. Mark is the brother of John, who I stayed with in Feilding. Also tonight more hikers are in need of accommodation. Later today we had Elina Michael Fabrice Seth and Peter arrive. The washing machine is soon full of smelly clothing and dinner is prepared of roast chicken spuds and veges for hungry hikers. I’ll only stay one night, preferring not to overstay my welcome with such a generous trail angel as Mark. On Wednesday morning I catch the local bus into the city as it is pouring with rain. Tonight I have booked a room at the Central Square Hotel so I drop my pack off and get about my business for the day. Much of the day is spent at the library doing my blog. Also I haven’t heard back from Salomon about my shoes so I bite the bullet and buy a pair of Asics which I hope will last me through the Tararuas and the south island. On a whim I stop in at Bivouac as they stock Icebreaker clothing. My socks have small holes so I take advantage of their free sock replacement policy. Nice fresh socks on I return to the hotel to catch up with Jojo and later this evening a drink with friends Glenda and Bryan.
Thursday morning. The intercity bus station is located in the square. Its a couple of minutes from the hotel. Just after 10:00 am we are on the road south and 90 minutes later the bus drops me off in Waikanae. From here I am on the TA trail again and will walk to Paekakariki approx 20km away. The Waikanae river tracks are well formed and follow either side of the river from the town centre to the sea. Native bush lines much of the track, there are open grass areas and equestrian centres provide another level of interest. What attracts me most however are the profusion of ripe orange and yellow Kawakawa fruit. Usually, birds plunder the fruit well before mere mortals have a chance to pick them. I enjoy a few and keep others to take to the Smiths tonight. Leaving the shelter of the flora at the estuary, I am bearing the brunt of the westerly gale which buffets me about especially when it catches my pack. Lucky I’m not trailing a caravan.. The estuary is undergoing a restoration project to return flora and fauna with the support of volunteers and DOC. A boardwalk leads the trail through this significant area safely and soon I stumble into the Paraparaumu. I tried the beach first but the wind was too strong to make any headway so I returned to the relative shelter of the streets. From Paraparaumu the trail continues south through Raumati and Raumati South before the houses peeter out at the reserve. From here I leap off the concrete storm wall onto the beach and head for the Coastal path which meanders through the dunes all the way to Paekakariki. It is a lovely walk even with a sideways wind to keep walking interesting. Kelly meets me in Paekakariki and we return to their place for bubbles and long overdue catch up. Tomorrow – the Escarpment Track