From Ruakaka there was a short section to Waipu Cove. We were after two intense episodes and wanted to rest before the next 30-kilometer stretch to Mangawhai. Unfortunately, there was another 6km along the beach waiting for us again.
I have a lot of experience in walking on the beach. All in all I hiked the 90-Mile Beach, right? The thing is, normal people do not walk on the beach, they just rest on it. Walking on the beach bends timespace. Let me give an example: you come to the beach at 9:00. You carry on walking for two, three hours, then you get hungry, start thinking about an afternoon tea, you take look at your watch: 9:05. Time flows impossibly slow. We can do an experiment one day. I will go take the road and Michał will go along the beach. I am sure that before he finishes, I will be able to reach Bluff, come back to Poland, make a million dollars, lose it, start a family, grow old and die, and at the end we will not meet!
So it is best not to walk on the beach, just lie and relax on it. That’s the way it works, I know what I’m saying. It’s because the landscape is very monotonous. On one side you have the ocean and on the other you have dunes. There is a hell lot of sand in the middle and that’s all. You walk and absolutely nothing changes.
So it’s been about 30 years (and it was supposed to be a short day) and we walked that 6km. We came to Waipu, where we stopped for shopping. While we were entering the store (Michał was already in to fill the basket, I was still in front of the entrance), a lady jumped out of the nearby premises asking if we are walking the TA? I answered that yes! “In that case, please come on in for free coffee or tea!” Awesome! Some call it “trail magic”. I do not believe in magic, but I do believe in human kindness. I said that as soon as we do the shopping, we will definitely come by! So we did. We sat at a table outside, Michał stayed outside to watch our stuff and I went for coffee. It took a while and at that time we were approached by two Kiwis in motorcycle outfits. They asked us if we were walking and while pointing at their bikes they explained their way to explore New Zealand.
– Where are you from? – they asked.
– From Poland.
– Ah, you must have nice jobs if you came here like this!
– Nah, we’re just savy.
Many Kiwis ask if Poland is in the EU. But nobody has ever asked where is it at all – I am happy that they know where our country is. Sometimes they can even comment on the political situation and development after ’89. But they do not meet many Poles in NZ.
After a nice and relaxing morning chat in a light rain we moved on. We had a boring road walk to take on a cloudy day. We came to the campsite at Waipu Cove. We checked in at the entrance and the receptionist immediately let us know that today it can rain and be quite windy. Therefore, she proposed a sheltered place near the trees. I checked the forecast earlier and it the wind speed was supposed to be around 45km/h. We came to a designated place, we set up the tents, but something made me check the direction of the wind, because it seemed to me that it was supposed to blow from the ocean. Well, I was right, except that the receptionist did not take this into account and put us on the wrong side. But, having experience with a strong wind in Norway, I trusted my tent. I collected a few stones to put on the stakes and knowing that the night will be unpleasant, with a little bit of anxiety I awaited the night.
In the evening, it actually started to blow strongly but my tent worked as I predicted. The legs remained in the ground, but the tent was bending inwards. I listened to music, so I did not hear much, but I did not sleep well. Early in the morning I finally managed to fall asleep. After we woke up, we waited for a break in the rain, rolled up and went on to Mangawhai. The route led along a gravel road through hills with regenerating bush. It was cloudy, but the views were great, and the greenery shimmered in all possible shades.
Throughout the day it began to clear up. A well maintained trail led along the slope above the ocean with beautiful views to the surrounding islands. The route was crossing private lands and from time to time there were signs informing the passers-by about this fact.
However, there was one problem – after this beautiful path, we were waiting for another episode on the beach. That meant another 15 years of walking. But what is it for us! We are still young.
We quickly went through the sandy section and we reached Mangawhai Heads, and then carried on to the end of Mangawhai (two different places), where we were supposed to spend the night. This time we got a few options to choose from. Either a place exposed to the wind, or pitch the tents behind the caravan, or sleep in the common room. We chose the option number three with the possibility of pitching the tents in option number two if it turned out that there are too many people in the common room (which eventually did not happen). In the kitchen we met a friend from the trail who decided to take another zero day before the next difficult stretch through the beach, several streams and Omaha Forest. “Forest” – yes, we already knew what to expect…