Monday 23 October 2023

Te Ara Hura, Day 1 - Do 10+ km/17,000 steps count as 'gentle'?

With thanks to Walk Waiheke for this famil

Sarah, our guide, is full of enthusiasm, encouragement and energy and this morning we set off on our 5 day, 100km circuit of Waiheke Island eager and excited. The track is called Te Ara Hura, meaning 'Discover the Way' and though I was familiar with about a third of the route, I was looking forward to exploring new territory and seeing different views.

There were 42 of us, the majority locals if you include Auckland, but of various nationalities - Kiwis, Brits, Saffas, Americans, Irish, Germans, a token Aussie, even a couple of Russians - plus 5 guides. Mostly women, our ages ranged from 30ish to a wiry little lady of 79 who was in equal parts inspiring and challenging. I mean, good for her but no way could I let her get ahead, eh.

Today was described as a 'gentle introduction', starting after lunchtime. After a welcome and some brief formalities, we set off down from Oneroa to our starting point on the beach beside a Te Ara Hura signpost - the first of very many. We marched off, full of energy, following a route I often walk, up over the headland to Little O, up again and along a bush track, down the road to the zigzag path to Hekerua and then off again towards Enclosure Bay - internationally famous on YouTube for the orca encounter there with some children swimming.

We heard about the amazing work done over 30 years by locals to restore a pine plantation back to native bush, a huge success, and then panted off again towards Palm Beach. After due warning, we descended the steep track (me behind a living-dangerously man who went the whole way with his hands in his pockets, tch) to the 'nudie beach' end which was, this being a sunny public holiday, well patronised by stitchless sunbathers. We finally had a proper stop for snacks under the palms, before the steep climb up again, cutting through a new housing development on former farmland. Sounds awful, but actually it was instantly envy-inducing: gorgeously landscaped big sections, well spaced and with marvellous views out to sea. It maybe helped that there are no houses built yet but, judging by the impressively stylish homes nearby, they will actually set off the scenery.

Then we trailed away along and down to Onetangi Beach for very welcome Postage Stamp wine and nibbles at Sarah's house just across the road. There was much group smugness, comparing of statistics - iPhone decidedly inferior to the Strava app - and eagerness to get into proper walking tomorrow, a full day officially described as 'flat'. We'll see...

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