With the Tararua Ranges behind me, I hike along the beautiful Kapiti Coast into Wellington to finish off the North Island!
The last video from the North Island!
DAY 48 – Parawai Lodge to Queen Elizabeth Park
I woke up to hard rain in the Parawai Lodge shelter. The other hikers were still sleeping, definitely not going out in this weather. I stayed in my sleeping bag for nearly two hours as rain pounded the roof. When it seemed to be letting up I finally got going.
The rain was very light and eventually stopped as I set off. I crossed a flooded river on a suspension bridge. The rapids were huge and the sheer amount of water rushing past was mesmerizing. I’m glad we didn’t have to deal with that kind of water back on the Whanganui River!
After a brief road walk I was in the woods as the skies cleared. There was a mix of sun and clouds as I climbed through pretty forest. It was a slog up steep hills but nowhere near as difficult as the previous day in the Tararua Ranges.
My pace was much slower than anticipated. The terrain was tedious and everything was muddy. I slipped several times, narrowly avoiding injury. The downhill sections were the worst as I slid and fell on my ass, getting ever dirtier.
Eventually the track came onto a logged pine forest. It was a slope of stumps, a stark reminder of mankind’s influence. In New Zealand they plant forests of pines only to clear cut them for lumber.
I took a break on a stump for lunch. Then it was a steep decent down the logging roads. At the bottom I had to cross a stream; I wasn’t happy about getting my feet wet. My toes have been wet for days now and I’m developing blisters. Even the tops of my toes are rubbing. Not fun.
Next was a lengthy road walk but I was able to make up for my slow morning. I plodded along into the town of Waikanae where I ate some Subway and kept on going. The sun was out and I wanted to smash some miles.
The trail followed a path along the river until it met the sea. It was quite pleasant with amazing views of Kapiti Island off the coast.
While soaking up the sun I started on my last beach walk of the North Island! It was a great evening for it.
My feet were hurting from my hard days in the Tararuas. I was trying to get to Wellington as quickly as possible so I was pushing myself farther today. Normally I should have stopped and set up camp, but there were still three hours of daylight! I really had no idea how my feet were still functioning. It felt like I was reaching my physical limits. I needed a break after thenTararuas but that could wait until Wellington.
Tom and I texted each other as he had already hiked this section. Since he skipped the Tararuas, he’d gone on to finish the easy sections into Wellington. He helped give me tips on where to camp for the night.
As the sun set, thunderstorms threatened to roll in off the ocean. I kept on walking down the beach. There was a closed track due to a rock slip so I walked on the beach longer before heading into the sand dunes. It was a really nice experience to walk alone on the beach in the dark.
Into the dunes I found a large picnic area that said “no camping.” Naturally I set up my tent just before a light rain hit. My tent seams are not waterproof anymore so I busted out the duct tape again. I really needed to fix this issue before the South Island!
At last I was able to finally rest. After all the hard days leading up to the Tararuas, then the mountains themselves, and now this long walk to the beach, I should have been dead tired. And yet I couldn’t sleep! My feet hurt like hell and I took a painkiller. My socks had been wet for days and my toes looked disgusting! At last I laid down to rest and couldn’t really sleep until nearly 3am!
WARNING: The following imagery is graphic in nature and may not be suitable for all readers.
Day’s Distance: 42km (26.1mi)
Total Distance: 1,622km (1,008.1mi)
Distance Remaining: 1,378km (856.4mi)
DAY 49 – Queen Elizabeth Park to Wellington
My tent was mostly dry when I woke up in Queen Elizabeth Park. I rolled it up and set off through the park with amazing views of the sea.
The trail then led me across the Escarpment Track. This took me up high above ocean with spectacular views. I climbed stairs and crossed bridges on the steep slopes. It was beautiful.
Next I had an easy walk along a paved path into more urban areas. I had finished the Kapiti Coast and was now heading into Wellington.
At a McDonald’s I met up with Tom who’d been waiting for me. He did the Kapiti Coast section the day before but his knee was giving him pain and we were worried about the future of his hike. He had planned to walk into Wellington with me but with the state of his knee, he decided he better rest some more. After lunch he grabbed my pack and hopped the train back to the city.
Without the weight of my pack, I set off with the intention of hiking a ridiculous distance into the city. I continued through a shopping center and then to Colonial Hill.
Colonial Hill consisted of a large, steep track through the woods to the top of the hill. It slowed me down but I was managing. At this time I noticed my phone’s battery was low and I also forgot to fill up my water bottle. Trouble ahead. I needed my phone’s GPS since the trail gets hard to follow in the urban areas.
After Colonial Hill I headed down to a rural road through pleasant pine forests. The road walk helped me cruise along but it was hot and I’d already walked over 30km! This was going to be a long day.
As I passed a golf course, I decided I should pop in to see if I can refresh myself. They were about to close but I was able to fill my water bottle, charge my phone quickly, and guzzle down two Cokes.
Armed with 27% battery now, I was back on the road for an evening hike up Mount Kaukau. I was following an old farm road up the fields to the ridge. I was pretty exhausted and started feeling lightheaded. I drank some water and ate the remaining snacks I had. This seemed to pick me up a bit.
The hike uphill treated me to amazing views of the countryside and the South Island. It was a great day for a hike but man was I tired.
After summiting Kaukau, it was a very steep descent down to the suburbs of Wellington. Civilization at last! I walked down the paved streets and through a park.
Wellington is such a neat city with all these parks and hidden spots that make you forget you’re in a city. I followed a stream through a deep gorge before emerging onto the city streets again.
Next was a steep climb up to the Skyline Track which followed the ridge overlooking the city. I had walked this before when I first came to New Zealand over a year ago! I was so close to finishing my day!
Tom messaged me asking why I was so slow getting into the city. I scoffed and continued into the Botanical Gardens where the trail wound around pointlessly. It was dusk now and it was hard to see.
Exhausted, I hobbled through a cemetery and then into the downtown area, past the Parliament building. I was so close to finishing.
I stumbled to a McDonalds for dinner at 9pm and then barely made it to Tom’s hotel. At least it was right on trail. I had hiked 60km (37.3mi) which is the longest I have ever walked in a single day in my entire life! I really don’t know how I did it. What a day!
Day’s Distance: 60km (37.3mi)
Total Distance: 1,682km (1,045.4mi)
Distance Remaining: 1,318km (819.1mi)
DAY 50 – Wellington to Southern Terminus of the North Island
After a wonderful night in a hotel bed and multiple hot showers, Tom and I headed off for brekkie (breakfast) at a cafe. I scarved down a healthy chicken salad and we split some pumpkin pancakes. Then it was time we hit the pavement.
We walked down to the water past some museums. We popped into an art museum before strolling down the waterfront. Wellington has the most culture of any New Zealand city. So much character.
It was a nice saunter in the sunshine down to Oriental Bay. From there we climbed the stairs up toward Mount Victoria. Up and up we climbed into a wooded area where we followed the Southern Walkway trail along the ridge of Mount Victoria.
We followed this trail back down the other side toward the airport and eventually down onto the city streets again. We hadn’t far to go now!
We entered the suburb of Island Bay and walked to the Southern Terminus of the Te Araroa for the North Island! We did it! Though the actual TA halfway point was 200km behind, this felt like the real halfway point. We had finished walking the North Island!
We celebrated in grand style with Dr. Peppers and ice cream bars from a nearby dairy. Then it was a bus ride back into the CBD (central business district) of Wellington for celebratory pizza.
Afterwards, I split with Tom to go hang out some old friends in Wellington. Beers and good times were had.
It’s surreal to think we finished the entire North Island in 50 days. We only took two zero days, averaging about 34km (21mi) a day. It hasn’t really hit me what an accomplishment this is and also how crazy it is for anyone to willingly walk across half a country for ‘fun.’ I’m excited for the South Island, my old stomping grounds. But first and most important, I’ll be spending Christmas in Blenheim with my old friends and coworkers from a year ago!
Day’s Distance: 13km (8.1mi)
Total Distance: 1,695km (1,0534mi)
Distance Remaining: 1,305km (811.1mi)
This song always gets me moving when I need to walk a bit faster!
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