The last post left us on this beautiful track running down to the beach (if you haven’t read the last post yet, I really recommend you start there to get the full story).
The views here are properly gorgeous. Such a lovely — and lonely — view. Well, lonely except for the quarry workers just up the hill, obvs.
The track leads down to the beach.
There are a couple of streams that feed all the way down to the shoreline.
And then…some trees, a rope swing, and…a cottage?
Welcome to Dacre Cottage, which (as does everything) has its own website.
While I was preparing for this hike, I filled two 1.5L water bottles. I then promptly left them on my kitchen counter. On the way back, slightly worried about dehydration, I decided to risk a quick drink from the spigot after inspecting the hosing and determining it was fed from the rain barrel. I did not acquire any loathsome diseases (or diseases of any other sort), so I guess it was potable. Thanks, Dacre Cottage!
It’s a nice, peaceful area to take a little break before starting on the next bit of hiking.
Speaking of which, in order to get to the trail for the next bit you need to ford this river. It’s about ankle deep and not at all slippery, so not a big challenge. I was just glad to be wearing sandals and not boots, since hiking with wet socks is not one of my favorite things.
The trail goes up again and gains plenty of elevation, which allows us to take a parting look at the cottage. OK, so maybe it’s an hour on foot in order to get there, but honestly living-wise one could do a lot worse. Hook up an Internet connection and boat in some groceries once a week and I’m game :)
But we must move on.
As I was walking through the bush, I heard a rustling to my left…
It was a big ol’ hedgehog, disappearing into the underbrush! It’s well camouflaged, but if you zoom in you can see it near the center.
Then I saw some more movement. And I made a very un-manly squealing sound:
A little baby hedgehog! It started to run after its (presumed) parent but then stopped and just sat there.
Since hedgehogs are generally nocturnal I was worried that the little one was sick or hurt in some way, so I didn’t mess with him other than to take his picture. But I choose to believe that he’s fine and healthy and posting on his hedgeblog about the big human who took his picture.
(The non-word “hedgeblog” came to me in a moment of inspiration. I am inordinately proud of it and would like to pause for a moment to acknowledge its magnificence.)
Er, moving on…the terrain climbs quite a bit, offering more great views, and then descends again. The trail just…drops off at a beach on the other side of the hill.
I did manage to photograph a bird with my usual degree of photographic acuity.
I don’t have a lot of other photos of this part because I was busy trying to find my way. I don’t know if the trail was underwater because of the tide or if I’m just too dumb to find it or what, but the trail is supposed to lead all the way up to Stillwater but I was trapped in some sort of marina. I couldn’t really go on because the ground was so marshy I was starting to sink in, and I couldn’t find another path. After wandering around for quite a bit, I decided to turn around and head back. I was probably about 1.5 kilometers from my intended destination, so although the intended length of my hike was 16km I think I only did about 13km in all (I don’t map the hikes out on my phone or anything so the 13km is a guess based on looking at a map).
On the way back I got a great view of the stairs I’d be climbing :)
When I got to the beginning bit again, I was shocked! Those “mud flats” I saw earlier? Now completely submerged!
I wanted to take a billion photos from the bridge but there were two annoying guys flying a drone around there, and whenever I stopped they acted like I was in their way. I would normally ignore them, but I was tired and mildly dehydrated and not up for a confrontation so I just kept moving. But look at the difference between the bridge now and the way it was when I first crossed it!
In this episode, Nathan learns how tides work! (Spoiler alert: no he doesn’t)
So that is the Okura Bush Walkway! If you’re up for a slightly longer hike that can still be done there and back while getting you home in time for dinner, I highly recommend it.
This was the longest hike I have done in New Zealand up to this point, I believe, and despite forgetting my water I had a really great time!
Minor administrative note: I’m going to the South Island! This only matters for those of you who follow along as these are posted, but the blog will be on auto-pilot and I won’t be responding to comments (or, probably, emails) for the next two weeks. There will be a couple of Talkytalk posts, which I try to keep to a minimum, and a couple of adventure posts, which I try to keep to a maximum :)
See you when I get back!