Johnny has a sweet job as caretaker of Dragonspell way up on the ridge.
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TA Day 18, Ruakaka to Dragon’s Spell – 26 km

Cloud and Blissful Hiker reflections on the Bream Bay walk near Ruakaka.
Cloud and Blissful Hiker reflections on the Bream Bay walk near Ruakaka.

Note to self: no more setting up on a slope. It was relatively wonderful at Betty’s but I couldn’t find a completely flat spot, so slid a bit and faffed with my mat until one strip of equilibrium materialized. Then an overly eager bird cranked it up at sunrise. Love the exotic, you bet, but this guy had a mic!

Yellow lupine frame the view back to the entire length of Bream Head with Mt. Lion reaching to the sky in the center.
Yellow lupine frame the view back to the entire length of Bream Head with Mt. Lion reaching to the sky in the center.
Shells crunch underfoot on the long beach walk.
Shells crunch underfoot on the long beach walk.

I share a cuppa with Betty and the sunrise before heading on. A hiker ahead of me speaks my language of low pack weight and walking every step. I have used boats three times – but that’s part of the fun of this ‘trail!’ – and twice accepted rides for short distances by Peter when we were walking together and Betty when she brought me to her home.

It’s not so much that I’m a purist, though I guess I am a bit, it’s more to do with taking the bad with the good, the boring with the thrilling. This thing I am doing, is a walk of the entire length of the country.

When I split off from the beach last night, I encountered a less affluent district, some houses unkempt. These were not the private gated communities, but the working class. And yet a woman helped me get oriented towards the stores and on my way. Her two little girls posed for my picture and we all shared a tiny slice of life. These moments resonate and remain long after the views blend into one.

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TA Day 17, Peach Cove to Ruakaka – 17 km + 11 km

Blissful Hiker has Peach Cove all to herself.

Blissful Hiker has Peach Cove all to herself.

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.

The perfect secluded beach at Peach Cove.

The perfect secluded beach at Peach Cove.