How about a day of meeting people?
I wandered down to the end of town and started hitching.
First up, a pilot going to the airport to the day’s joy flights.
Second, a health worker off to Collingwood to start work at 8 30 am.
Third, a Japanese chicken sexer, living in New Plymouth and off to do some horse riding near Farewell Spit. It seemed the first time she had encountered the one-way bridges on a road, there wasn’t much traffic at this early stage of the day, so after we had hurtled across the second one I mentioned to her that any other car coming the other way was not going to fit on the bridge as well. She had a startled look on her face as she realised the danger and I explained what the obscure giveaway signs meant, it was us who was supposed to give way meeting any other traffic. Then I mentioned that she had better be careful going the other way as well as other tourists may be similarly unaware. While I was waiting I chatted to Hank who was fixing up the Pakawau Hall, painting and getting the egress doors to open and close freely.
Fourth ride was with a dolomite worker who lived in the remote hills, who took me further than his turnoff to make it easier for me. Some locals walked past, I thought I was indeed remote but they lived in one of the four houses just out of sight up the river.
Fifth ride, with a German tourist off for a hike up a hill.
The sixth, the longest ride, a young couple from Motueka, now living in Christchurch who spent the time arguing with each other.
And that got me to the Anatori River, the end of the two wheel drive road. I forded the river, calf deep, in my jandals and as I was putting on my boots a local farmer offered me a lift to the next river, and then we went up the hill to look at the neighbour’s new fertiliser storage shed, rampaging up in his four wheel drive, me jumping out to open and close gates. Up at the totally unlevel airstrip, on the top of a rather rounded hill there was a fine view south down the coast, the Kahurangi Lighthouse just visible from on high.
Just as I was unloading my pack from the back of his ute, a couple of quad bikes came by, dad and his son, and I sat on the back of dad’s bike blatting down the beach to the Anawhata River from where there was no immediate crossing possible. Actually it was almost high tide, maybe half an hour before, I had a three or four hour wait until I could cross the estuary. Shortly thereafter a couple, A and D, arrived not knowing about the first River and estuary.
Eventually, around 5 30 pm we had a go crossing. Me first, not so great, I launched out across some rocks, the flow still swift, deep on the upstream side, the rocks while flat and chunky were also extraordinarily slippery, the last 10 m was a deeper channel. I plunged in and was kept up by my pack, swimming for a moment before I touched the sand and powered across the last short bit. Fortunately I had wrapped everything in bags all inside my big yellow internal waterproof bag and there was no leakage.
The others trudged upstream 200 m and crossed more easily. Then we walked together along the beach until the next big hurdle, Big River. They clearly didn’t trust me, I plunged through, on the 45° due to the flow and then took off my pack. Then I went back to the obvious spot to cross while they walked up and down for half an hour but eventually they made it across.
So despite the hitching, hanging around waiting for rivers to drop, beach walking and river crossings I’d made it all the way to the first hut.
Three others were there so there was some discussion but one thing for sure, I’ll sleep well tonight.