In the past 5 days we hiked from Wanganui to Palmerston North and covered 59 kilometres on the Te Araroa Trail.
Total TA kilometres: 1475 kilometres according to maps
Philippe: Meeting Anthony & Fiona
Nadine: seeing my best friend again and meeting Anthony & Fiona
Nadine: shin splints
Please note: The stated kilometres are approximate. The hiking times are pure walking times, without breaks. On average we take 1,5 – 2 hours breaks during the day. The smiley’s describe our mental, the muscle arm our physical state. 10/10 is the best.
You find our actual pictures from the trail on Instagram.
Day 55: Wanganui to Santoft
43,5 kilometres, 8h40min
Walking on roads. Oh, how I missed it. 20 kilometres it was on the State Highway alone. Podcasts on and stubbornly following the road. And hoping that no truck will swerve or that too many old people would be on the road. We survived it and my hat got blown away just once.
We also had a typical Te Araroa encounter on the highway. We met Anthony, who will host us in Palmerston North in three days. You can find out more about him in this interview.
After 30 kilometres on roads we got an alleged variation of the trail. 8 kilometres on the beach! I hated it from the first minute. The wind grinded my skin, the sand stuck in every crack and blisters made their presence felt. The gravel road in the Santoft Forest was like a woodchip trail compared to it. After 43,5 kilometres – my first marathon 😉 – we were tuckered out and still had to walk to the next houses to ask for water. Caren – our Trail Angel of this evening – not only gave us water bus also let us stay in her old unused camper van from the 70ies. Sheltered from the wind we considered ourselves fortunate again.
Ouch, my feet! After the first steps the balls of my feet hurt like after a 40km-day already. I thought five days without walking would have been long enough for my feet to recover. And they felt really good yesterday. But as soon as they felt the additional weight of my backpack they started to rebel. Oh well, there was nothing I could do. So we walked our marathon anyway. Yes indeed, we walked 43,5 km (that’s even more than a marathon 😉). After Zero Days we apparently tend to overdo things…
I limped the last metres. Recoupingly, we had a nice surprise when we asked for water at a settlement close to the trail. We were invited to stay in an old renovated campervan. Of course we couldn’t refuse the sheltered bed, as it was going to be a windy night.
Day 56: Santoft to Bulls (and further to Palmerston North)
15,5 kilometres, 3h
Well yes, the 43,5 kilometres yesterday were quite bananas. We manage to overreach after a Zero Day time and again. If the many kilometres were accountable for Nadine’s shin splint I don’t know. She’s had the problem before. Road walking is definitely not ideal. That also pertains for my inflamed “tensor fasciae latae” 😅 and the shoulder blade muscle.
Be that as it may, she tormented herself in the morning with every metre. 15 kilometres later in Bulls we stopped at McDonald’s for Frozen Coke and a Sundae. After an hour we still didn’t know what to do. But the first 50 metres on the sidewalk were quite conclusive. And 5 minutes later we were in a car on our way to Palmerston North.
In the centre we met Anthony. Fiona and he hiked the Te Araroa last year on the South Island from South to North. We got to know them through an interview, because we extremely liked their website. During their hike they portrayed all the oncoming Te Araroa hikers. From this arose a brilliant insight into the Te Araroa and its faces. So have a look at it.
In the centre we also bought a new sleeping pad (guarantee would only work in Australia) and a new cap with a better sun protection for me. And we went to get our bounce box from the post office, too.
In the evening we ate together with the extended family of Anthony at his parents’ house. Almost like a Christmas dinner 😊. The Christmas tree stood nicely decorated in the living room and three generations were assembled around the table. And two Swiss, who ended up there somehow.
I definitely paid the price for yesterday’s long walk, especially as it was only on roads with just a short stretch on the beach. The first kilometres today were quite okay, even my feet felt better (thanks to the Ibuprofen, probably). But then it started. My shin was getting sore and I tried to find the write walking style not to feel the stabbing pain. Okay, that should go. Just keep walking cautiously. After 10 kilometres I applied Ibuprofen Cream. The pills seemed to work on my feet, but not on my shins. I massaged a bit to find out where it hurts exactly. I stretched. I took breaks. But it didn’t help. By the time we reached Bulls after 15 kilometres every step was a torture and I almost couldn’t lift, let alone flex, my right foot.
We took a break at McDonald’s, got us some ice cream and frozen Coke and I tried to figure out if I could keep walking. We took off just to try again, but I soon decided that it won’t work. I developed a shin splint. Thank you, roads.
I took the consequences, we hitched to Palmerston North, where we planned to stay tomorrow. Walking on the road to there would have only made it worse and to be honest, I think we didn’t miss much on that stretch.
Anyway, we’re in “Palmy” now, I put some ice on my shin and we’ll see how it develops from here.
Day 57: Palmerston North (Zero Day)
“Roads are for cars”. This statement from our talks with Anthony and Fiona still sticks to my mind. Our bodies can only underline it. My inflamed muscles at hip and shoulder and now Nadines shin splint. All the Te Araroa hikers, who ditch the road parts, are doing it right. We’re soon at kilometre 1500 (halfway) and the physical strain of a long-distance hike makes itself felt. It seems that my body doesn’t have any reserves left and it’s getting worse. My mind wants to walk, but the skinny, wiry and bony part underneath won’t. And then we’re guest at two great hosts, which makes the thought of continue walking all the worse.
But enough of the doom and gloom. Today we did our resupply shopping for the Tararura Ranges and sent the bounce box to Wellington. And in the evening we met Nadines best friend, who spends her honeymoon in New Zealand. What a coincidence as there are many on the Te Araroa. We ate the best pizza in town (Pompeii, according to Anthony and Fiona, true 😉) and made up for lost time. Tomorrow we’re gonna spend the day together.
Anthony and Fiona are great hosts and that quickly consoled me for my body upsetting my plans yesterday.
My shin is still sore, but the rest certainly helps. And like always we try to mitigate physical downs with mental highs. My highlight of today was meeting my best friend Anina, whom I haven’t seen for a year (last time in Cambodia). Her partner and she are spending their honeymoon here and our paths crossed in Palmy. We had to celebrate that, with the best pizza in town (Pompeii Pizzeria). For Christmas I’ll have some imported Swissness: Ovomaltine (our “Milo”), Sugus (fruity chews) and Lindor chocolate (won’t explain that…😄).
Day 58: Palmerston North (Zero Day)
Much more Christmassy wouldn’t have been possible today. With our Swiss guests we spent a long time talking outside on the patio. Everyone was happy to rest for a time and Nadine baked a Swiss apple pie for afternoon tea with everyone.
In the early evening it was time for Star Wars! “May the force be with you on the trail.” Afterwards we had Thai dinner.
With port, sherry and Christmas cake we celebrated together with Anthony and Fiona back at their place. It almost felt like being home again. We felt so comfortable with them that we decided to postpone our restart for another day. Our “oppressed” bodies deserve it. And our hosts are so uncomplicated and generous that we can stay for another day unproblematically: It’s just awesome here!
Christmas in New Zealand! Admittedly quite different to Christmas in Switzerland. Almost the whole day we sat in the garden with Anina and Oli and enjoyed the summer. In the evening it was all “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. Cinema on Christmas is about the become a tradition of ours, it seems. Last year we watched Hobbits in Saigon 😉
After the movies we had Asian dinner (Pad Thai, absolutely delicious and huge portion: Yeda Restaurant) and at Anthony and Fiona’s it got a bit more traditional with Christmas Cake and Sherry. Hmmm… I could get used to that.
My shin didn’t hurt anymore, but we still decided to stay here for one more day and start walking again on the 26th December. If we’re given the opportunity to stay with such great people, we should take advantage of that and enjoy it, right? 😊
Day 59: Palmerston North (Zero Day)
Our Swiss visitors travelled on this morning. With only 4 weeks you have a tight schedule. We allowed ourselves another day. It’s still Christmas. I used the morning for Skype, to exchange some Christmas spirit with my family in Switzerland and my sister in Chile. In a few days she comes to New Zealand. A good moment to tell her about the “bio security” in NZ 😉.
I also perpetuated our names into the garden table of Anthony and Fiona. It was desired vandalism! All Te Araroa guests have to carve their names into this table. A tribute to the richly decorated or scribbled DOC huts.
Finally we could watch the New Zealand movie “What We Do In The Shadows”. A mocumentary about a group of vampires sharing a house in Wellington. Watch it!
Tomorrow we definitely keep on walking. Hopefully my muscles, tendons and ligaments have rested enough.
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly I adapt to new situations. I’m already back in the homely mode and the thought of walking on seems distant.
But still, we’ve rested long enough, I’m rusting already. Tomorrow we leave the nest and carry on. The Tararua Ranges are calling, and the weather is supposed to stay fine.
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