Day 316...Oceans, Mountains, Lakes and More

Last night the ocean did its best to make as much noise as possible, but it lost the game because I love the sound of the waves. To me, the sound of the waves all night was like a lullaby. I woke up during the night but it was just to listen to the waves for a few minutes and then, with a smile on my face, to go back to sleep again!

We woke up with the sun and both agreed that it had been a good overnight stop as we sat and discussed the day ahead, looking out at the foaming waves now cresting over a very blue ocean. The sun was shining, the wind had blown away most of the cloud cover and we were about to go off on another day of adventures.

First stop was a beach south of New Plymouth (Oakura) where we watched a couple of seasoned surfers gear up and head out on the waves. Then off we headed for a final beach check on where to land, finally deciding on inside the port in New Plymouth, before turning away from the ocean as I had already seen enough. I have seen possible landings for the next five days of paddling and I’m most certainly not going any further up the coast until I have actually arrived on New Plymouth’s shore in my kayak. Enough is enough! A quick food stop to grab milk, bread and ham, then on the road once more.

Mount Egmont was once again our destination and before long we were pulling into the North Egmont car park. Having grabbed a map from the information centre, we made some snacks, loaded up our backpacks, and we were on the track by 12.30pm. I looked up at a cloud-covered Mount Egmont and hoped the weather might change as it would be so cool to be able to see right to the top of the snow-covered Peak Maketawa Track. We got up to the hut and then the real climb started. By then the cloud had lifted and we got to see right to the very top. Over the next 2.5kms, we had to work extremely hard as it was really steep. At last we got to Tahurangi Lodge, 1,500 metres above sea level, but it was another 2,518 metres up to the summit. But there was no way we were going up there as neither of us had the correct clothing or gear to go to the summit. It was also here that we discovered snow on the top section! From the Lodge, we scrambled along the edge of the snow, sometimes actually ending up with it well above our knees in a couple of places!

Very gallantly, I let Martin lead the way. I’m never that keen on steep snow slopes and was glad to let a Norwegian forge ahead. He just laughed at me! The snow was icy-blue in patches and I was more than glad to get back on the track and onto tussock grasses. This track took us across the base of the snow-clad steep peaks above us. Then it was down the Veronica Loop Track, past the Ambury Monument and back down to the car park. All in all, a beautiful hike today, all 10 kms of it, with some seriously steep alpine sections. We passed through lush rain forests, the trees all dripping with moss and lichen, a little like a "goblin’s forest". As I mentioned before, on the higher slopes the forest gave way to sub-alpine shrubs and fields full of herbs.

Tired but happy, we sat at a really large wooden picnic table, eating our food, luxuriating in the warmth and enjoying the last of the sun’s rays. Then it was off to locate a campsite for the night. Beside a lake was our first option but unfortunately there was no camping allowed, so on to another location which turned out only to be open during the summer months. Off we headed a little more inland where we hooked up to power, got all our wet and dirty gear from yesterday washed and dried, then roasted up some crispy veggies to have with our steak dinner. A great day was had by all and we did our push-up challenge in the snow today. What more can I say? The weather forecast says it all about the bad weather heading towards New Zealand and I have seen enough big swells on this journey of mine to be happy to go paddling on an inland lake or two while the ocean continues to foam over the next few crazy days.

My smiles today:
We saw it all today. Ocean, mountains, lakes and more.
Snow so deep that, at times, even Martin seemed surprised!
This incredible National Park.
Roasted veggies and frozen peas!

My thoughts today:
I may not be there yet but I'm closer than I was the other day!

It’s goodnight from us! (Red, Martin and Cuzzie.) Ma Te Wa.

The view as we climbed.

The view as we climbed.

Tussock. Alpine scenery.

Tussock. Alpine scenery.

The ocean. Sugar Loaf Islands.

The ocean. Sugar Loaf Islands.