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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

These Boots are Made for Walkin’ (Day 114)

Since we have been away I have been trying to walk 10k steps each day. (Back home I often only managed 3k per day). On the whole I have succeeded, some days more, some days less, which means that we must have walked over a million steps now on our trip.

Today –a record for me. Not 10k steps, not 20k, but 30,832! I am well chuffed and well exhausted too! So how did we achieve such a feat!

At breakfast, our wonderful host Mariea suggested best places to go today. We headed for Wharariki Beach first as the tide would be low. We parked up and walked a 20 minute track and then came across a huge expanse of sandy beach. Just beyond the seashore were massive rocks with, what looked like caves formed by the power of the wind and sea. And then we noticed them; two young seals play fighting in one of the rock pools, then another joined them. So fun to watch. Six more seals were frolicking in the waves, then Mum with 3 cubs came out. I kept a bit of distance. These seals can look cute, however you don’t want to get on the wrong side of the Mum. It really was a magical moment.

Next we went to Cape Farewell, the most northerly point on the South Island. It was given this name by Captain James Cook in 1770 as it was the last land he saw as he and his crew departed for their homeward voyage. We walked up to the viewing platform to see the huge cliff with a large arch. The views were spectacular. To our right was a steep grassing hill. It was extremely windy with no barriers along the sheer drop but we decided to see what was over the brow. I am not sure what overcame me. I felt as fit as a fiddle and rather than be a hefferlump, I had turned into that goat. I was skipping up the bank, fairly light on the feet. It felt great and so rewarding reaching the top, where we were treated to another incredible view of golden beach and cavernous mountain edge.

Back to the car to reach Farewell Spit – with its very distinctive long shape that extends into the Tasman Sea by 30km. It looks just like a Kiwi’s beak. How apt! We walked along the southern edge which is a Nature Reserve where 83 species of wetland birds have been recorded. We saw oystercatchers, gannets, gulls, and lots of black swans. We finally reached a sandy area so attempted to reach the northern side of the Spit. It was like being in the Sahara Desert, the sand dunes that run down the spine of the spit were a lot bigger and wider than we anticipated. Ripples and steep banks had been formed by the wind and some areas felt like quicksand. Mmm… we were both getting hungry and tired, so decided to head back. By this time I had reached 18k steps – things were looking good!

We stopped off at Mad Café only to find that most of the deliciously sounding menu was not available until the evening, so after a very yummy Berry Shake, we went off to Rockville to see the Devil’s Boots and Aorere Caves. Mariea had told us a story where a farmer went fishing, took his gumboots off and left them on the bank, and then drowned in the river. The gumboots turned to stone. They were huge!

We parked the car and walked up a track passed an old gold workings from 1880. The track changed from grassland to shingles with heathland on either side and steadily climbed. It wasn’t arduous, just long. The walk followed original gold miners’ tracks, sadly we didn’t spot any gold. Near the top a stream trickled down and fantail birds appeared every now and then as if they were checking on our progress. At last we came to a signpost Stafford’s Cave which was formed around 500k years ago. It certainly wasn’t what I expected. Very dark with huge boulders and deep crevices. I stayed put and Tim went further into the cave. He found some rope with knots in leading down into the depths of the cave. No – thank – you. We got back to the original track and a little further found another sign “Ballroom Cave”. Our host Mariea mentioned this one. The Villagers of Collingwood had a big event here – with candles and scones, and even brought instruments up to play in the big cavern. What an experience. Apparently the miners also used to use it for dances. We enjoyed having a singsong, tried to take photos of the stalactites, but the light from our phones weren’t strong enough.

A few thousand more steps returning back to the car. Back to the Mad Café for dinner. A very rewarding day. Perhaps there is a walker in me yet!

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