Day 4 – Utea Park to Ahipara

Date: 29 September
Distance walked: 32.9km
Trail covered: kms 69.4 to 101.1
Weather: too hot and no wind
Number of seals: 2
Cost of washing and drying 5 items of clothing: $8

This morning i said goodbye to Tania and Paul from Utea Park.  Rhydian and I walked together for the first bit.  This morning daylight savings started and this is the time where I usually think “oh no, I lose an hour sleep tonight” but this time it didn’t really matter too much.  Although, that meant that high tide was quite a bit later than usual, and we couldn’t be bothered waiting for the tide to recede, so we left just before high tide.

My minimalist room last night

Although before we left, Rhydian took a photo of me in my hiking attire.  If you don’t look like this, then you’re not a real hiker. Shirt, shorts over thermals, and crocs.  Very stylie.

Hiker’s attire

Rhydian stopped for a break quite early on and so I left him at that point.  It was another 30km walk today to Ahipara (in fact it was 32km) and the end of 90 Mile Beach, and I wanted to get it over and done with so again I only wanted to stop once.  I planned to stop at the 17km mark where there was supposed to be a campground where I could get water.

I saw two seals shortly after I left Rhydian.  These seals were definitely alive.  The first one started making noise and flapping around and started running  up to me – I walked away quickly as I didn’t know if they were friendly or not.  I had last seen seals in Wellington by Red Rocks in 2013, although those seals just were lounging around on the rocks and didn’t move.  I haven’t seen seals before since then.

The first seal that I came across

After a while walking on the soft high-tide sand was really draining and hard.  I looked on the map and saw that there was a road called “Coast Road” which ran right alongside the beach – so I climbed up over the sand dunes and walked down the road for a while.  It was much easier.

Dunes I crossed to get to the road

Shortly after I was on Coast Road it was 11am, so here’s my 11am picture.  When I stopped to take this, on went music and hi-viz pack, and off came the jacket and hat.  The music was on quietly because, even though it was a forestry road, you still have to be careful walking down roads.

11am picture

Although even walking on the road was hard.  The road was a 4wd bumpy road and the blister that was starting to develop on my left foot was becoming very noticeable.  But I persevered.  I was on the road for an hour or two but only saw one car in that time.  When the road next got close to the beach I rejoined the beach and kept walking to the 17km mark.  It was a slog and there was no escape from the sun on this hot day.

Where the road rejoined the beach

I eventually got to the 17km mark.  I saw the campground was a fair way away from the beach so I just sat under a tree in the car park.  I was there for 90 minutes and since I knew I wasn’t far away from a town, I ate every thing in my pack that didn’t require cooking.

Me in my shelter

While I was here I booked in at the YHA in Ahipara to make sure that I had somewhere to sleep tonight.

This is also the point where my glasses broke.  Now I have to wear my hat or beanie to keep my hair out of my face, even when it’s hot.  Will have to get new ones at Kaitaia when I get there.

RIP cheap sunglasses

It was a further 15km to Ahipara.  There were a few more people down this end of the beach.  I saw people on bikes, on quad bikes, and also at least two 4wds where children under 8 seemed to be driving.  Maybe that’s the way they do things up here.

I noticed that my shoes had gone white, which was a bit unusual. I don’t know what caused that – salt maybe?

White shoes

I passed a cow at one point. Not normally noteworthy but it was after 4 days on the beach.

Wow, a cow

And a rickety farm building.

Rickety farm building

And… which was a bit more exciting… the 100km point of Te Araroa!  I enscribed a quick message in the sand to mark this momentous occasion, at the exact point.

100km down!

You can see Ahipara in the distance there.  That was my view all day.  Again, it just didn’t seem to get any closer.  But eventually I got there.  Thankfully, 90 Mile Beach isn’t actually 90 miles – it’s more like 90 kilometers (55 miles or so).  It was nice to finally be off the beach… although it wasn’t actually clear at Ahipara how to get off the beach.  The notes referred to a boat ramp that I just couldn’t find.  So I climbed up the bank and somehow ended up in a golf course – whoops.

How to get off the beach here??

But I was only slightly off course.  I walked through a bit of grass, and possibly through someone’s back yard (I’m not sure) but rejoined the road.  It was only another few minutes to the YHA.

YHA Ahipara

The YHA was good because they had a washing machine.  I finally got to do my washing, although with the coin operated washer and dryer it cost $8 to wash and dry about 5 pieces of clothing plus socks – I’ve been wearing the same clothes every day so far in case you didn’t notice!

While the clothes were washing, I was dressed in almost the only other clothes I had – a spare shirt and my rain pants. Even more stylie than the hiking attire at the top of the post, right?

More stylie attire

I really had been craving an ice-cream all day, a real typical kiwi scoop icecream but the shops were another 1km from where I was staying and I just didn’t have the energy to walk down there, I was so sore.  So I settled for a Cornetto from the YHA shop, and also some 2-minute noodles for dinner.


That was the view from the little cabin I was staying in.  I chose a cabin because it is supposed to rain really hard tonight, and a proper bed was just too tempting.  I could see two tents from my room… I looked at the gear spread out on the table and I was trying to work out if they were also Te Araroa walkers.  I figured not because I didn’t recognise the brands of the gear and also I would surely have seen them on one of the previous days.  I was going to ask the occupants of the tents but I never saw them – oh well.

The whole campground was overrun with 17 year old kids who were on something called “surf camp”. They stay here every night apparently and each day they go out for a surf somewhere. They all disappared at 7pm tonight to go surfing but I didn’t catch where.  The kid I talked to had a thick American accent but he said that he went to a school in East Coast Bays in Auckland, which I thought was interesting.

I was in the main “common area” using the YHA’s computer because it is much, much easier writing blog posts on a proper keyboard than on a small phone.  Also, the WordPress app is supposed to work offline, when there’s no phone coverage, however it can’t handle pictures when offline, which is annoying.  I like to add pictures to posts so that sucks a bit.

In the area as well as the kids from the surf camp there were also a lot of people watching the Wales vs Australia rugby world cup game on the TV, two people playing table tennis (who kept whacking the ball into me) and a few other guys talking on their phones in what sounded like German.

I went to sleep still very sore.  Yesterday when I was very sore it was gone by the evening.  This time it stuck around right till the evening.  I’m grateful that I have a real bed to sleep in and also grateful that the walk to Kaitaia tomorrow is only 18km.  And no more 90 Mile Beach!  No more sand!  For now at least.  Hooray!

Actually… I’ll miss 90 Mile Beach if I’m honest.  Despite being monotonous, it was easy to walk down and beautiful.  And I didn’t see Rhydian again.  I guess he stayed at the campground at 17km.

Today's walk on the map (blue = Te Araroa, red = today's walk):

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