Hugh has one of Ros’s kidneys and they have both done the TA to raise awareness of live kidney donors. Hugh biked and drove around to meet Ros. One of the complications of kidney disease is super-sensitive feet, due to nerve damage - so a pebble can feel like a shard of glass. This makes it even more incredible that Hugh helped me across the mangrove swamp and tidal estuary. He even lent me some ‘mud slippers’ and carried a bucket and cloth so that I could have clean feet when resuming the trail! - A pair of 'Trail Angels’ indeed!
Although many locals are very supportive of the trail, there is some ambivalence from the Whangerei Council. Ros is trying hard to persuade them of the economic benefits of the TA, especially with section walkers - many of whom prefer to stay in accommodation rather than camp out.
Many, many steps later, I arrived at a DOC campsite on the beach front which is fabulous. The next few days included HEAPS of stunning scenery: Sometimes I wondered if this was my reality…It seemed like someone had put a giant painting of a too-amazing-to-be-real scene; a scene of sparkling sand, perfect blue skies and picture book boats on the horizon. And another. And another. It is real. And my reality.
Time will tell. Southward, ever southward…the Big Smoke awaits....