Friday 27 October 2023

Te Ara Hura, Day 5 - Saving the best till last

With thanks to Walk Waiheke for this famil

This was going to be the best day, I had already decided; and despite less than ideal weather thanks to ex-tropical cyclone Lola, I wasn't disappointed - though it was up against stiff opposition from the first half of Day 2. We set off from the marae at Blackpool and climbed up through the bush, around the headland past Cable Bay (where, er, the electricity cable comes ashore) and into Church Bay. The timing of the entire walk was dictated by the height of the tide along this section, so we could go along the various beaches.

This bit of the island, like the Bottom End, is where the really rich people live (or, have homes) and we passed some pretty impressive buildings tucked away in, usually, private spaces. They have great views out across the water towards Rangitoto, Motuihi and the skyscrapers of the distant city, and I bet they get some spectacular sunsets.

After a while we got onto a more familiar section, where the Sculpture Walk trail takes place every two years, and we went past a corten steel piece that I particularly liked from last time, which evidently the property owner did too, and bought it. After that we continued around the coast, through bush, up and down steps, and eventually arrived at the ferry terminal at Matiatia where, since it was wet and windy, we went inside to eat our lunches.

After that we headed on around the bays, a lovely walk I've done before with more excellent views and big houses with gardens dotted with artworks, and a vineyard with a zebra sculpture, right the way round to, once more, our starting point on Oneroa Beach, 100km and five days ago (by which time, having been busy taking multiple photos of the inside of my pocket, my phone had died). There was a cheerful speech, a presentation, many thanks, some tears and then a group move up the hill to the fish and chip shop for rewards both liquid and solid.

So. The weather (cheers, Lola) could have been better for views and colours - though there would then have been considerably more sweat. There were sections that I really didn't enjoy, plodding along with nothing to think about but my sore feet and aching legs. And - well, and nothing else negative. All the rest was just lovely: the new bits, the private bits, the local stories, the guides' enthusiasm, and especially being part of such a positive group.

It was interesting how, initially, the chat was all about other walks people had done (very impressive, multiple Caminos plus every other one - including *cough* the Inca Trail). Then it got a bit more personal, about people's lives and families - and, finally, there were really deep conversations about relationships, health, death, career choices, mistakes and successes. Also, how long to hard-boil an egg, and the recipe for a Pornstar Cocktail. The scenery was lovely, the effort was satisfying (afterwards) but the company was best. Would recommend.

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