Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand
After 3 flights, and 36 hours of travel, I start the hike, falling asleep to crashing waves at Twilight.
Rain passes through at Scott Point above Ninety Mile Beach, a relentless expanse of sand walked for three solid days.
Following the stairs down from Scott Point, the Blissful Hiker begins the Ninety Mile Beach.
Spirula or Ram's horn shell on Ninety Mile Beach.
Awakened by wild horses, the Blissful Hiker heads back onto the long, lonely Ninety Mile Beach.
Blow Carting near Ahipara.
On the final day walking the Ninety Mile Beach, the wind changes and brings blow carts my way.
Friend of a friend of a friend, Peter, holds up a manuka branch just before we enter the New Zealand bush.
Tuis, bell birds, roots and mud – the deepest I've seen in my entire life – in the Raetea Forest.
There's nothing like putting wet and muddy shoes on in the morning.
The mud continues until the bush abruptly ends at rolling hills headed toward more bush.
Kauri bark has a hammer-mark texture and continuously sheds its outer bark in large scales to prevent climbing or perching plants from gaining a permanent hold.
A long walk through the Puketi forest takes me past manuka honey bees and a kauri forest.
A welcome sign and snacks left by trail angels.
It's a long walk mostly on easy forest track and farm fields to Rainbow Falls and Kerikeri.
Oysters are farmed on log wooden piers in the Whangaroa Bay near Kaeo.
I take my first "zero day" near Kaeo and eat mussels, oysters and take a huge nap.
Legs like stilts on the Ninety-Mile Beach in the far, far north of New Zealand.
The start of the Te Araroa is a trial of sand, wind, rain and mud, but it's worth it.
A Māori pou whenua or "land post" that marks territory and tells a story, much like totem poles.
It's "easy tramping" all day to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and finally Pahia.
The tide pushed my kayak right up the gorgeous Waikare Estuary.
The trail is on water as I kayak up the beautiful Waikare Estuary.
The Papakauti stream is the trail through the magical Russell Forest, followed by road to Helena Bay.
It's straight up on a ridge with sensational views, then deep into steep up-and-down bush.
Crossing the longest footbridge in the Southern Hemisphere at Whananaki, the trail is easy along beaches.
Millions of pipis and tuatuas give a lovely crunch to my step.
An easier day on a sprained ankle through the chest-deep Horahora River to Tidesong.
The birds, people, and sound of my feet through water, mud and sand were the hiking conversation.
A big climb takes me to a spectacular view from the Te Whara summit.
From Tidesong, it's a walk across the Taiharuru estuary to Ocean beach then up magnificent Bream Head.
It's 76 flights of stairs out of Peach Cove, then over foggy Mt. Lion to Smugglers Bay and Marsden Point.
Johnny has a sweet job as caretaker of Dragonspell way up on the ridge.
It's a beach walk with spectacular reflections, then up a steep hill to views from DragonSpell.
The alicoop and Blissful's shadow.
The views are astounding on the Mangawhai Cliffs, after a long road walk, Blissful camps on Pakiri Beach.
Tree fern fiddlehead in the Dome Forest.
From Pakiri beach, it's straight up into muddy bush and views from Mt Tamahunga before the Dome Forest.
It's "tramping track" through the Dome Forest, one boardwalk section of Kauri, and a long walk to Puhoi.
Stacked packs at the Puhoi Pub.
Blissful waits out the tides at the Puhoi Pub, then kayaks down the river to Wenderholm.
Omra tells me that my subconscious needed this long walk to sort out the "big questions."
There is a lot of magic on a thru-hike when we have faith and juts let it happen.
The rocky section after Wenderholm that can only be crossed at low tide.
The tides must be timed to walk the beautiful rocky beach near Orewa, then it's road to Stillwater.
The beautiful rock spit near Dacre Point only crossable at low tide.
After water up to the navel in Okura Estuary, it's a beautiful walk down the North Shore to Auckland.