Day 1-5 | The End of 90 Mile Beach
First 100km tramped and first proper reception! Our hike started in Cape Reigna on the 1st of November as planned. Getting to the most northern point proved to be a mission of its own as we got a flat tyre while taking a 4×4 track over the dunes with our family.
Once we got to Cape Reigna, we were amazed – it is quite a sight where the Tasman Sea meets Pacific Ocean. The wind was blowing hard but luckily it was sunny and clear.
Below the some of writings at Cape Reigna that explains the history.
Catch my spirit
The white beach in the distance marks Kapo wainua – Spirits Bay. Its name comes from the ancestor Tohe some 700 years ago, when he departed from that place on a journey. Tohe was old and longed to visit his daughter far away. His people feared he might die before he returned. He said to them, “Kapohia taku wainua!” That is, if his wainua (spirit) passed that way on its final journey, his people should reach out and catch it, not let it go on.
According to Maori belief, all souls travel to Cape Reigna after death before their final journey. We have had some very interesting Maori engagements, but will get to that later – a wonderful culture and people.
From Cape Reigna, we tramped relatively easily 13km to Twilight campsite where we met other hikers who had started on that day. The first day consisted of hiking over rocks, dunes and a short beach which was already showcasing the beautiful landscape of New Zealand. Walking on the beach is quite tough on your feet and you need to be aware of the high-tide that can push all the way against the dunes. Some streams on the way provided us drinking water – however it is advised to filter it before drinking. We were not completely on our own as the 90 Mile Beach is also know as a national road where many fishermen spend their day for a catch. Many of them stopped to check if we were still alright. We also had some fish encounters on the beach, everything from a snapper to a stingray. Something you really need watch out for is the sun as it can get very hard in New Zealand.
At the first campsite, we were quite an international group from all around the world with as many reasons to be on this journey. When we were still Cape Reigna in the tough wind trying to attach the last gear into the backpacks, we asked our folks “quickly remind us why we are doing this”. They laughed and said, “We don’t know, you never told us!”
People on Te Araroa are amazing and so caring. The next two days were just too long: 30km per day and there was only beach with just a couple campsites. On the third night we had to camp in the dunes when we had realised we wouldn’t make it to the campsite with the coming high-tide and exhausted feet. We also ran out of water that night which was a rather scary experience. You really start valuing the basic things in life here without taking them for granted. Supposedly, both pain and beauty are very much part of Te Araroa – they unlock the strenght of human beings in the most beautiful environments. It is humbling.
The following morning we found out that other hikers had actually gone searching for us in the night as they were worried. You need people here too, no matter how much you long for wilderness. We have learned how important it is to share your plans with fellow hikers, even though the hikers come and go.
We made some ‘mistakes’ too. Packed way too much gear and food which has caused some extra pain, but each day we learn more and become stronger. And everyone is meant to do TA their way – that’s why we call this tramping.
Luckily, we survived the repetiveness of the beach – but at the same time it really forced us to reflect on the upcoming journey, our reasons for being here and to open the mind for the forthcoming adventure through the muddy and thick forest to the East Coast.
Today we had a day off in Ahipara and we hitch-hiked to Kaitaia to resupply and send a package home to lighten our bags. Ready to move on!