Day 51: (December 25th) 22.3mi/35.9km Whanganui Holiday Park to Koitiata campsite
Christmas day! I wake up at 7am, and the 7 of us have a nice Christmas breakfast that Andrea made. Cinnamon rolls, bacon omelet/quiche, fruit… so good!
I lazily pack up and leave at 11am, and walk in nice weather for a few hours. It’s a road walk all day, so not too exciting.
It rains at the end of the day, and my umbrella works great!
I camp next to Ruben & Amanda, and Achille and Paul are nearby too. There isn’t any other legal place to camp before this spot, so hikers tend to get bunched up here at the beach campsite.
Day 52: (December 26th) 25.0mi/40.2km Koitiata campsite to Lee’s Reserve
Today is a long 40km day, so I get up at 6am to get a good start. It’s Christmas day in the US, so I make a couple of Facebook chat calls while walking the trail. But, then it gets wet…
Once we enter the beach, it’s a nice cruise, and it has cool black sand.
The rest of the morning is in a nice forest, before we do a road walk all afternoon.
We get to a town called Bulls, and there are puns with this name everywhere in town… “our prices are incredi-bull”, “our food is delecta-bull”, etc.
After stopping for ice cream and a milkshake, we walk the last 2 hours to Lee’s Reserve, which allows TA hikers to camp for a donation.
Day 53: (December 27th) 21.3mi/34.3km Lee’s Reserve to Palmerston Nth
I get up at 6am for another long day of roadwalking, and the other hikers are starting to pack up too. I think there were 12 people here last night!
I hit the road at 7am with Amanda, Ruben, and Achille. We gradually separate at different paces today, and I get to a small town at 9:30am, not much is open… except subway. Subs!
I head out after an hour, and after more road walk, the route goes on a short trail… the first 100m is nice. Then, it dead ends at a stream without a bridge. Huh?! We backtrack up to some train tracks, and cross using the bridge. Shortly after we cross, a train approaches, exciting!
The 4 of us meet at a grocery store, and do our resupply for the next 6-day section. Then we head to my friend ZigZag’s house. I met him on the PCT in 2015, and he lives in Palmerston North.
It is great to see him and catch up! He has since hiked a few other trails, including the Bibbulmun track (1000km in Australia), which I now want to do someday.
Tomorrow we head out, and start the last section with mountains on the north island!