Dawn dropped us off at Pataua to pick up where we left off at about 10am, after a quick detour to the local outdoor shop to buy me a replacement trekking pole (one was lost to the mud of Raetea Forest, the other to my signature forgetfulness.) We said our goodbyes to the lovely Dawn, thanked her for her kindness and we were away! We began making our way towards Ocean Beach, a little dubious about the perils of another beach walk, the pains and aches of Ninety Mile seared in our memories – little did we know we had a whole other world of pain in store. Ocean Beach was beautiful with a bustling bird scene around the dunes and an abundance of multicoloured shells underfoot.
At the end of the beach there was a steep cliff walk ahead – the beginning of a series of ups and downs which would have our calves screaming in agony by the end of the day and our knees not much better. The steepness of the hills called for some manmade steps and by “some”, I mean THOUSANDS. It was like that scene in The Labyrinth but we were deprived of David Bowie’s mad hairstyle to distract us from the difficult task at hand.
We had tried to book into a private DOC (Department of Conservation) hut earlier that day but the website indicated it was full – there was a campsite adjacent where we had aimed to pitch up. The only issue was Peach Cove was at the bottom of, guess what? More steps. Grand going down, not so grand coming back the next morning at 6.30am. About 5 minutes into the descent we consulted each other: this is still a good idea? Well no, it quite likely was a terrible idea but our alternative choice was wild camping and missing out on the water supply at Peach Cove. It had been a hot day, and our Jane Fonda Extreme Mountainside Step Aerobics had seen us barrelling through the water. Supplies of the clear stuff were down, so the decision was made. When we finally made it to Peach Cove we were greeted by passing tumbleweeds. Alan looked at the hut and said “I imagine this place is as booked out as the Titanic is right now.” Nonetheless the hut was locked, so we set up the tent, went to bed early and dreamt about steps all night long. They’re a pretty great band like.