Levin 1536km – Wellington 1695km (day 78-83)
It was a very odd sensation to be coming into my old home town on foot. Things seemed very familiar, but at the same time new, and different from a walking pace. Overlaying those feelings were the ones about finishing the North Island. Relief, disbelief, a kernal of hope, no – confidence that maybe we can actually do this thing! Oh, and more than a little weariness over TA. Some R&R is required!
But first, some outstanding hiking! Waikanae river to Estuary to the wild coast was beautiful. QE2 park, with its campground who managed to find spots for TA walkers in amongst the families set up for days. Such a slice of kiwiana.
Then 3hrs of magic, high above Paekakariki. The Escarpment is an amazing track, both for views as well as the engineering involved. Over 1000 stairs, and 2 meaty suspension bridges. And we had a cracker day – calm, blue skies, clear views of the south island. The track from Pukerua Bay to Plimmerton was soul destroying after those views. We decided not to walk into Porirua along the motorway, but instead held on to the high of the Escarpment Track.
And the next day was another amazing section – Colonial Knob to Mt Kaukau. I never knew you could walk beside a babbling stream, under a regenerating forest canopy pretty much straight from the town centre. Stairs galore, through to 350m lookout. The views from there were great, but onwards we climbed, to 468m summit. Amazing. Then, a descent over farmland, to a pine forest, then down to valley floor. Very cool!
You can’t believe you are even close to the city, then you turn a corner on an old coach road through farmland, and suddenly Johnsonville spreads out before you.
We did the final 2 sections over the next 2 days (without packs). We ended in Island Bay on a gorgeous Wellington day, and the last day of 2019. 1695km officially (our count is not quite that high!) from Cape Reinga. Amazing places, people and experiences.
I say ‘we’ a lot, but haven’t spoken about Pete specifically, so time to correct that. A massive part of this adventure is being together, and working our way through everything it throws at you, together. I could, and indeed wouldn’t, do this journey without him by my side. (Or occasionally about 50m ahead of me, striding onwards).
Now, time to recuperate. It’s an opportunity to see our very missed friends and family. Chill and rebuild, before the South Island adventure begins.