The Wairaka Walkway is a 16.5 kilometer (10 mile) coastal track that took me from sea-level to the top of the hills that surround Plimmerton, New Zealand. It was my first trek on a trail of its kind here. It was a picture perfect day and I took many to share with you.
My personal means of familiarizing myself with a new place is to lace up my sneakers and to get walking. It is the closest that I come to meditating without any effort. I feel the most fortunate and in the moment when I find myself away from the many cars on highways and the hustle of commerce. I find it easier to focus on enjoying my surroundings. Sounds seem to pop. I notice when the breeze makes the hairs tingle on my arms and legs. My breathing feels like it synchronizes with the surrounding waves from the ocean or rustling leaves in the trees. Going for hikes in new places helps introduce me to my surroundings and re-introduce me to myself. It’s as refreshing as spring water on a scorching hot day.
I’ve found three small trails around Pukerua Bay, but nothing that made me break a sweat and get my hands dirty. The Wairaka Walkway comprises several trails and my trek begins just outside of the home that I am house-sitting. The trail extends far along the coast until it reaches neighboring Plimmerton. Circling back toward Pukerua the trail gave me two unexpected surprises. The first was a chance to explore the peaks of the sexy green hills around here that I’ve wanted to climb. The second is the last photo of this photo blog.
At the bottom there were lots of crustaceans on these rocks. The tide was out and the sun had just come over the horizon. The weather was cool and a little chilly and I knew it would be perfect later when the sun was above. Off in the distance is Kapiti Island special to New Zealand as a nature reserve for its abundant bird life.
At first there were some joggers along the coast. The trail was narrow and I moved for them to pass. I thought that I might see more people along the trail. They would be the last people I saw for hours. Just after they passed I came to this intimidating gate to keep animals out. It was symbolic to me as it was the beginning of hours of solitude.
These stones are very large and heavy. They are all rounded from being thrown around in the sea. The coast changed so much along the way. In some places there were large broken trees that had been washed onto the shore.
It’s fun to compare the contrast of the coast in the last three photos.
These stairs went on for some time. I began to hear my breath as I reached the top. I knew that I had gone very high very quickly.
I was right! This is the view on the way up to the top of the hills on the track. After a couple hours of walking I nearly kept going after taking this photo. Sometimes we perform like we are programmed machines. I’m glad that I forced myself to pause after the photo and enjoy it.
The bottom of the hill took me to a long paved walk way for cyclists and joggers. It was the last quarter of the trail. I crossed over train tracks and knew that I was near the Pukerua Bay train station. Four hours had gone by at this point. It was a good time to stop for a quick bite to eat. I had brought a small lunch with me. Afterwards I walked up and around a bend on the paved way and I came to a treasure I had been looking for.
An unfurling fern. I had been wanting to see one. In Maori an unfurling silver fern stands for new life, growth, strength, and peace. It is called koru. The silver fern is a national symbol of New Zealand and when I had learned the meaning I began looking for them. Just like a four leaf clover it had done a good job of hiding from me. This one doesn’t look like a silver fern, but it is a fern and it is unfurling and I was happy to find it at the end of the day.