A nice walk along the beach was a wonderful change of pace, after the challenging Tararua Range.
CareFree and I were very slow this morning, not leaving our motel until nearly 10 am. After a very tiring Tararua Range experience, I needed the slow start today, however, there was another reason for the late departure: high tide was at 9:45 am, and we had one more North Island beach walk to complete, and we wanted the tide to go out so we’d have good beach to walk on.
From the motel, we walked back to the TA, and then south along SH 1 (on sidewalks!) for a little while before turning off onto the Waikanae River Track, a cycle path that led us along the Waikanae River. That took us most of the way from Waikanae to the ocean.
The track dropped us off on a road. Briefly following it, we entered the Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve. The reserve covers the wetlands and estuary area adjacent to the beach, and represents a significant undertaking in reestablishing native foliage and habitats after they had been removed decades ago. Quite a few plots of land are maintained by volunteers; we met a group of four ladies on our way there, just returning from a morning of maintenance work.
After snaking through the wetlands on a well-maintained boardwalk, we reached Paraparaumu Beach. We followed the beach for a while (without much difficulty as the tide had gone out a fair bit) until we reached the town of Paraparaumu Beach, where we stopped for lunch. On our way off the beach, we passed a boat being towed by a ridiculously-proportioned tractor, though that’s what was necessary to get the boat into and out of the water. We also remarked about how loud the ocean was — more so we were relieved by the absence of its roar once we started moving inland.
We continued along the beach, eventually reaching Raumati Beach, which seemed very much similar to Paraparaumu Beach: expensive houses, set back from the ocean behind sand dunes or above a rock retaining wall.
The whole day along the beach, we were on the Kapiti Coast, named after Kapiti Island, a wildlife preserve just off the coast. I first saw the island while in the Tararuas, but now, we were much closer, and could make out more detail than just a silhouette.
The beach walk was fast-paced, and somewhat monotonous, and my knee started bothering me. We stopped for a break just an hour after we finished lunch, sitting down on a staircase at the bottom of a sea wall. We weren’t in a particular rush, since today is only about a 21 km day, and we were most of the way to Paekakariki, our destination for the day.
At some point, we missed a turn off of the beach, which was supposed to take us to a boardwalk above the sand dunes. Since we still had plenty of good sand to walk on, and were making great time on the beach, we kept going, now on Whareroa Beach just before Paekakariki.
We left the beach, joining a road that brought us to the Paekakariki Holiday Park, on the northern outskirts of town. We checked into our cabin — pre-arranged since CareFree has a work conference call tomorrow morning and needs stable internet and a quiet place.
Exhausted (still, from the Tararua Range), I very quickly got a shower and crashed in bed for a short nap. While we cooked dinner, we briefly conferred with Peter and Susanna, confirming that they were still planning on taking the ferry to the South Island on Jan 30.
We also booked a hotel in Wellington. For some reason that’s unclear to us now, hotel prices on Saturday are absurdly expensive. We could get a better deal if we were less picky and swapped rooms each day, but this was our last trail town on the North Island, and it would likely be the last time CareFree and I would be together until I finished the South Island, so we went ahead and splurged on our room. (Split two ways, and with the exchange rate, it really wasn’t even that expensive anyway.) CareFree also booked her airline ticket back to Auckland.
Tomorrow, we’ll reach Wellington’s northern suburbs, as the North Island begins to draw to a close.