Despite both of us limping along, we still got a reasonable pace going and were soon enjoying (!?) a beach section again. Hm.
This is a particularly neat treehouse!
My Wellington Batucada mate Caroline graciously offered to take in a couple of TA waifs for the night, and fed, watered and put her washing facilities at our disposal. Thanks a bunch, Caroline, it was great to see you!
Day 69. Paekakariki to Johnsonville. After a great night's rest, we were chomping at the bit to walk in to Wellington. Early morning, lots of rabbits out to silflay (Watership Down reference, if you are wondering). This may be a Kiwi reaction, but I was itching for a .22 or shotgun! My bad. For overseas readers, we also hanker to kill cute little possums. I think DOC has brainwashed us!
The TA notes offered a fun diversion up to see the new escarpment walk which wasn't open right through, so it would be a roundtrip. We declined the very kind offer and saved our strength for other things to come. But I did see a very nice bridge which is part of the walk, and I bet the views up there are amazing. For future hikers, I know the elevation change will be well worth it.
Between Pukerua Bay and Porirua we ran into this fellow - another German (Sebastian) who had met Frodo and Sam at Puketi Hut… Sebastian was seduced by their tall TA tales, and so was section walking North….and about to head through the Tararuas. We gave him the good oil (I tried not to put him off, but was dubiously eying up his gear). Good luck, Sebastian!
In Johnsonville (J'ville to us Wellingtonians) we ran into this creature who scared the crap out of me by driving up onto the pavement where he had spotted us trying to eat a bakery.
It's the Stig! Ok, not really. Scott had earlier offered a bed for the night in a nearby suburb. We took him up on the offer as Island Bay was just out of reach! Luckily for us, Scotty and Adi have a ute, so Scott returned to pick us and our packs up, and we were whisked away for a BBQ, wine and whisky. It was awesome. They also said something like "TA, that's nothing. Check this out you girl's blouses" and did the modern slideshow equivalent of their recent trekking in Nepal. It looked fantastic, and I may have a future project in mind :-)
Day 70. To Island Bay. Adi took over driving duties from Scott and dropped us back J'ville way and pointed us up Old Coach Road towards Mt Kaukau. We said our goodbyes and headed into the fog/mist/cloud.
Compared to Pureora or the Tararuas, it was a doddle! I was looking forward to being a tour guide and pointing out Wellington POI to Chris. We couldn't see more than 20 meters, so my job was fairly easy. Look, a lookout. Cows. Gorse. Fence!
The small linking track on Te Ahumairangi was closed, so we walked down the road from Wadestown, through Thorndon to St Mary's Street. For me that was fun as this was my old neighborhood. I bored Chris with childhood stories. He pretended he didn't understand English anymore.
We got to the cable car. Selfie time!
We then debated about the route from here pretty much all the way to Island Bay as the route isn't always that obvious. Usually if the track notes say it is, it isn't, and vice versa.
I think we were both a bit mentally tired by this point, so senses of humour got a bit frayed whenever the TAT pointed us up another set of stairs or extra elevation for 'S and G'. I was most pleased to see Mother Nature agreed with me about stairs…
Chris still managed a Swiss Cheesy smile…
Better yet, I found a flying fox!
We knew we were near the end of the North Island because the weather closed in so we were back to conditions that we had started the day in.
And then we saw it! The end of the road. The blue paint, by the way, is a tsunami line. If the siren goes, try to find a hill and above this line. Or grab a surf board, HYOH :-)
It felt a little anti-climactic when we reached Shorland Park and flopped down by the dedication stone.
…but spirits perked up when we walked into Island Bay to find a beer!
Thanks to everyone for your support as I walked this island, it's been very much appreciated. I'll be starting the South Island alone, and am seriously thinking about reversing direction so I am walking North towards home. What do you think? Personally, this resonates, so that may be the plan. I'll blog about gear and my tramping tactics later this week in case anyone is interested! In the meantime, don't forget all the blisters and pain is for a great cause - Shine! Please share my blog/FB links with your friends, and donate if you can. Thank you!