After getting situated, the next few days were low-key, with me doing a bit of hike planning, and CareFree catching up on more work.
The Te Araroa Trust has recently started sending a small care packet to hikers who register. The packet includes a postcard with a welcome message, a sticker, a patch, and a metal hiker hangtag.
Today was another low-key day with not much hike-related accomplished. The first 16 km of the TA, from Cape Reinga to the start of 90 Mile Beach (which is not actually 90 miles long) is closed due to damage from storms earlier this year. The NZ Department of Conservation (DOC) has been working on it, and the trails were supposed to open this week, but it seems that repairs are taking longer than planned, and the trails will be closed for at least another couple of weeks.
The northern terminus is still accessible, fortunately, but we’re going to have a road walk from the terminus to the earliest point we can connect to the TA.
We had some of CareFree’s friends over tonight. Ulrike, whom CareFree met on the PCT in 2017, will be hiking the TA starting later inn the week. Jeppe, and his girlfriend Wiebke are in New Zealand for three months; CareFree met him on the Rennsteig in Germany, when she was meeting and resupplying Ulrike. Jeppe’s claim to fame is hiking for twelve days in Germany with a couch (on wheels). We ordered pizza from Pizza Hut. I’d forgotten that pizza sizes in New Zealand are much smaller than in the US; an “extra large” here is roughly the size of a “large” at home.
This afternoon, Spark was finally able to get my cell service working correctly. Apparently, the account was somehow stuck in a “pre-activation” state, and someone needed to go in and manually change it to activated. In any case, I have cell and internet access now.
We’ve decided to move up our start date slightly. Our plan had been to take a bus to Kaitaia on the 10th, stay in town overnight, and take a shuttle to the terminus on the 11th to start. Instead, we got a campsite at the campground near Cape Reinga (about 6 km away), and will get a shuttle there on the 10th, starting with a nice oceanfront campsite before heading up to the terminus on the 11th. For a while today, it looked like the trail closure around the terminus was lifted. However, this appeared to be an error on the TA’s website; the closure notification reappeared later in the day.
The temperature in Auckland has been nice, but it’s often felt a bit cool because it’s been fairly windy out. Hopefully, this won’t become a problem; the majority of the first section of trail is along a beach.
More research on the trail closures today revealed that the trail I’d been planning to take from the campground to the terminus was also closed, adding even more roadwalk. Ultimately, we decided to get a shuttle to Cape Reinga, tag the terminus, and then walk to the campground on the 10th; and then walk from the campground to the TA on the 11th, reducing the amount of (duplicative) roadwalk on Day 1.
I briefly participated in my weekly D&D game via zoom; the connection speed and lag from New Zealand to the US was much better than I’d expected it to be.
We again had guests over tonight, some of CareFree’s work colleagues. More pizza was ordered.