I am a total dope. I followed a beach sign down to a rocky shore. But there is another beach sign just up the trail a few feet that goes straight to an actual beach. I get there with still a hot sun coaxing me under the gentle waves, huge scallop shells within reach.
I stay out on my private beach until the shadows get long then disappear altogether, roosting cormorants look like vases in the trees, their heads tucked all the way under their wings.
I love that this paradise is all mine, but feel nervous, too, being alone. I think that’s why I missed the beach turn, like somehow not thinking through all that’s possible – and probable.
It makes no sense to put a hut at rocky shore. The map indicates sand. I simply didn’t follow through. But I’m happy to have pulled away momentarily from the crowd and the expected.
The best sleep, kiwis whistle-hoot in the dark, sandflies and ‘avian fecal matter’ layer the alicoop. I sleep in late, luxuriating in my private bay, and of course, swim again.
I’m up and out, 76 flights of stairs. One last swim cooled me down before the ascent as fog gathered around the Mt. Lion, where I’m headed.
The trail heads straight up, hand over hand to a perch, fog swirling like the Lake District, but a particularly R2D2-esque Tui, definitely not from the motherland.
Then it’s a thousand steps down and down to Smugglers Bay and another private beach, larger, waves crashing as I make brunch. Feeling a bit too cold now for a swim as the wind picks up and I put on my jacket. My hair is still wet and briny from the dip at Peach Cove.
An old man in trunks up over his navel arrives and dives right into the waves. I feel a wimp not going into that turquoise. I’ll have to go in my underpants and bra now that I have an audience.
He plays in the waves letting them knock him around. And then, he leaves.
With the beach deserted, I skinny dip into the bracing chop, sun in and out of cloud. The salt tastes sweet on my lips.
Wet and sandy, I decide to walk further, adding more kilometers but justify it because it’s just so stunningly beautiful. I come across some punky kids, hip hop cranked, testing out attitude on me. Kids are universal. Good thing I was clothed.
I pass more breathtaking views on the Busby Head loop track and then the gun battery, built in 1942. It was made to look like a farmhouse and only shot three test rounds, one – accidentally – traveling twelve miles.
I enter the charming village of Urquharts Bay, cloud-shrouded mountains surround, but the view is of industry.
So here’s a total New Zealand Te Araroa switcheroo, right-place-at-the-right-time, kinda thing – I have to hire a boat to get across to Marsden Point, or walk/hitchhike a loooong way around. I assume there are so many walkers coming, I’ll join them.
It’s $100 no matter how many go and that’s pretty steep. So after taking a pause in the shade at a lovely picnic table I give Blair a call. He asks if I’m near the jetty. I look over my shoulder, and sure enough, it’s to my left. “I’ll get you now for $20.”
The family is just coming back from snorkeling so make a small detour, I throw my sticks over, hand Olive Oyl to Kim and the Ocean Diversity is off, one hand on the camera, the other holding tight as we tilt up for a bumpy ride, splashing and laughing all the way to the refinery and a few gorgeous k of beach looking back to my Mt. Lion and private bay.
My feet search out concrete-quality sand as the tide comes in. I go well for a bit, then sink deeply in, slowing way down. Pizza and beer are at the next community, so I hear, but that’s too far off, so I leave the beach and pop up to Ruakaka and ask a nice Kiwi what might be open in town.
She sends me to the supermarket where I meet Betty who asks me how my walk is going and invites me to camp on her lawn – and have dinner. She is religious and has a glowing spirituality and appreciation about her plus gratitude for all the gifts in her life, like the spectacular view of Bream Head from her porch. I must say, I feel deeply blessed – today especially – but every day.
We share a marvelous meal with a church friend named Natasha, who just happens to be friends with Peta who introduced me to Peter and Ange – all friends of a friend of a friend of a friend way back on the Ninety Mile Beach. The evening is topped off with singing and guitar.
I’m snuggled in the alicoop thinking on how different pieces pulled together today, how trust and letting go simply allow good things to come. I do like to plan and prepare – what do they say, but what do they say? Good fortune comes to those who are ready or something like that.
I tend to dwell too much on the negative and, in trying to avoid bad things, hold on tightly, sometimes missing out on the possible. Like the beach at Peach Cove while consumed with what if’s, I hesitated to accept what is – and what is just now is a full belly and a full heart so I leave you until tomorrow’s adventure.