There is an enforced slack day today, to do with tides.

I could have raced over to Awaroa at dawn and make the tidal crossing early, around 10am is the latest, and then what, more marching, or, rather, just take my time and cross once the tide subsides. They are huge tides currently, 4.8 m, and in this instance, you are required to defer to nature.

There’s an initial tidal crossing at Onetahuti which is currently being bridged, but I’ve timed it perfectly and don’t require the boots off and on business, just splash through.

Last night I decided to continue past Bark Bay because I’d heard Tonga Quarry was quite the picture and had a cute beachside campsite for 10 tents max.

Bark Bay, in contrast, is a campsite of somewhat sheltered expanses for 80 tents although they were less than 10% occupied, it’s still early in The Season. There’s all the facilities: picnic tables aplenty; a kitchen shelter that may not fully accommodate every chef simultaneously at full occupancy; a large communal fireplace, with a truckload of firewood neatly stacked nearby and permission to incinerate it, elsewhere fires are prohibited. The campsite is sheltered, more or less, with vegetation, and just over there is the beach, no shelter there.

Despite those attractions I scooted around to the hut where the hut warden, Phil, invited me to upgrade my accommodation, rain was imminent, clearing front pushing through, in fact that was a foretaste dropping right now. But despite the latish hour, 5 pm, the offer of a guaranteed rainproof roof, only an extra $20, a comfy mattress thrown in, or alternatively those kitchen facilities, wood pile, sheltered site, not so many fellow campers, I pigheadedly continued on my merry way over the sharpest climb on the coastal track, that’s not saying all that much, and discovered it ain’t so bad living in a tent despite moderately inclement weather.

I whacked up the tent in a lull in the weather, then cooked up a typically delicious meal in the next, a short time later.

Actually with a modicum of exercise mixed with a surfeit of oxygen it doesn’t seem to matter about the tight confines of The Coffin as my tent has now referred, not much use of the headlamp, you can conk out early, the sun sets around 9 pm.

Today not much in the way of marching with progress halted by that 6 pm Awaroa low tide crossing. Last time I came through I chanced on fully low water, tromping straight through, somehow thinking this was how the situation at Awaroa always is, but today I found this is not the only predictable state.

I remained patient until 6 pm and then waited for others on the other side, more enthusiastic and getting the lower half a good wetting, pants, undergarments and, indeed, their nether regions all soaked. I watched a more perceptive fellow on the other side making his way across only knee deep, not taking the shortest A to B direction and then I became the lead trooper for the aggregation of now six people intent on forging across from my side. As it turned out it wasn’t so bad, I did the circumlocutory route, ie, less than knee deep, the others A to B with the predictable consequences, a lot of shouting and laughing, depending on their height.

Waiharakeke is a classic little campsite, fully sheltered, within earshot but not sight of the waves.

Despite the lax day I think I’ll sleep well enough.

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