Last night, as the wind continued to gain in strength, we listened to the sound of the sea increase as the swells picked up. By the time we left the campsite in the morning and looked out over Opunake Bay, the view had changed. Overnight the calm flat bay had been replaced by five metre swells and waves. The surf club rooms now looked as if they belonged.
No need to sit and look at the boiling ocean all day long however, because we were off hiking, up into the foothills and tracks of Mt Egmont. As well as being windy, it was raining; that very fine but heavy rain that soaks right through you when it makes contact. Martin was in control of the day’s plans and, as we both like waterfalls and rivers as well as long hikes, I was in no doubt at all that it was going to be a well-selected track.
But, firstly, let me update you a little more about Martin who is really fit and tramps a lot. He’s about 6ft 3” tall, so I’m always in some doubt as to whether my legs will keep pace with him. He comes from Norway and wants to see as much of NZ as possible. He doesn’t think it’s cold at all, so luckily the weather today is no deterrent for either of us. We’re wrapped up warm and are wearing great rain jackets, as well as hats and gloves. Off we head into the wind and rain, into the forest. The track is Dawson Falls, which will link up with the Wilkins Pools Track, Stratford Plateau, the Enchanted Track and the Waingongoro Track, then out to the Waingongoro Hut for a well-deserved lunch stop. We will go back up onto the Ridge Track to Dawson’s Falls via the Kopuni Loop Track then back to the car park. Phew! All in all, it will be about 15 kms.
The fun began when we were greeted by flooded creeks to get over. I wasn’t brave enough to jump from rock to rock, as my history of slipping over on wet rocks is not a success story so, at the first crossing, I remove my boots and walk barefoot through knee-deep water. But, after an hour out in the wintry wet weather, I give up trying to keep my feet dry because it just isn’t going to happen. The track was a true pleasure to be on and we were both enjoying being outside, battling the weather. By the time we got up to the summit, it wasn’t raining anymore but sleet was settling briefly on my rain jacket. As we stood looking out through the mist, clouds and horizontal rain, it didn’t take us long to decide to get back under the cover of the trees and the forest. We wended our way down the Enchanted Track, with moss and lichen hanging from every branch, the rain and the mist just making it even more of a magical environment. The track was actually more like a small fast-flowing creek. Everywhere possible the water cascaded down the track steps and the trees roots, so you can imagine that, after three hours of this, we no longer cared how deep the water was. That our feet were wet didn’t matter in the least. I continued to wade through the creeks and the streams as we came across them and Martin continued to rock hop over them.
Our lunch stop was at a DOC hut. It was good to get out of the wind and the rain. The hut even had its own supply of coal. Next time, it would be a good idea to spend the night in one of them and crank up the fire. After lunch, we still had about an hour left of our tramp to do, so up went our rain jacket hoods, on went our wet jackets and we hoofed it up the watery track. As one might imagine, Dawson’s Falls was wet and it was really crazy to stand and feel the waterfall spraying all over us. As we climbed the last hundred steps to get back to the track, I declared this to be the best hike we have done so far in the North Island. We have had such fun, even on a cold, wet and very windy day!
Once we had dried off and got back into Cuzzie, to end this very special day we drove out to Cape Egmont and, just past the lighthouse, we looked out at the incredible waves and sat staring at a ferocious, foaming ocean that is forecast to become even rougher. WOW! I sit on the bench seat inside Cuzzie wrapped in a blanket, while Martin sits up front, just staring out at the waves. He’s another ocean freak like me. Tonight we are freedom camping in a place that feels like we are at the edge of the earth. The noise of the ocean is like continuous thunder in the background and the wind rocks Cuzzie back and forth. I reckon my sleep tonight will be interesting if, indeed, I get any at all!
My smiles today:
Hiking in the elements.
Creek and river crossings.
The DOC huts for the lunch stop off.
The great Kiwi outdoors. It truly is unique.
Huge ocean waves.
My thoughts today:
Life is like the ocean. It can be calm and still, rough and rugged but no matter what, it is always beautiful!
Goodnight from Red, Martin and the gorgeous, rocking Cuzzie. Ma Te Wa.