It was 5.45am when my feet hit the pavement. I was rather worried about a short but potentially freaky walk down highway 1, the busiest road in New Zealand. An early start would ease my suffering, I thought. But I needn’t have worried. There was a generous shoulder on the side of the road, which is very rare in New Zealand. I felt safe.
By 7.30am I joined the joggers, dog walkers and morning exercise freaks on the beach at Waiwera. The trail followed the rocky exposed headlands of the inter tidal zone. Rock pools, muscles clinging to rocks and sketchy cliff crossings greeted me. It would have been a pleasant experience at the lowest of low tides but the tide was rising fast. And I was unable to travel fast on the sometimes slippery surface.
At one point I had to cross a narrow section of off camber rock face. Earlier it would have been an easy walk on the rock platform below. Now waves lapped below me.
A small beach greeted me and more rocky platforms cut off by the rising tide. Around me were sea cliffs on one side and a fast rising tide on the other. If I failed to cross the next headland I would be unable to go forward and unable to return.
I’m usually very light on my feet but I needed to be careful crossing the last two expose headlands. I got splashed by one wave by made it around. All the photos above were taken well before I realised I needed to get a move on.
This got me thinking, how many hikers have been caught out by rising tides on this trail. I’ve been caught out several times now. This part of the world sees two tides per day instead of one, and they have a high tidal swing of several meters. At least if it was high tide when setting off I could have had the choice of following the busy road
It wasn’t long before I was hiking though the suburban sprawl of Auckland. It must be a booming city because new houses and building are going up quicker than the hopes of Australia ever beating New Zealand at Rugby. 10am photo below
It was rather pleasant to be following urban hiking paths through parkland until the inevitable roadwalk ended my day at the campground called Stillwater. The owners are super friendly and supportive of hikers. Free camping inside the recreation building and a free shower. With numbers increasing it is unlikely they will afford to keep up such complimentary service but their assistance to hikers are greatly appreciated. Thank you.
I met another hiker, Michelle, from Switzerland. Due to the free accommodation we thought we would spend our money locally at the nearby marina that had cheap meals and cheap beer. Tomorrow we would team up for the potentially sketchy crossing of the Okura River. If we get it wrong, we will be swimming across a 500m wide river.