Walking around Mangawhai

After an action packed day 1, I was barely able to keep my eyes open past 8pm, but an incredibly relaxing slumber left me ready for the day!  I was without a vehicle as Ryan had to work the next few mornings.  So, I ventured out from my home base (for the next 6 days of so) on foot.  I actually got a ride to the surf beach from Ryan’s landlord, Liz who was awfully friendly and unbelievably knew of my home Redmond.  Apparently, when Liz (a Kiwi) was in grade school, her parents hosted an exchange student from Redmond, Oregon?!  So, she had kept in touch with her friend from childhood and actually visited her in her 20’s in Redmond – such a small world!

After she had dropped me off, I was going to walk along the beach to see the Cliffs Walk (a highly talked about local short walk up on the seaside cliffs and back along the shore).  As I walked around the surf beach, I stumbled upon a nice short climb to a lookout called the “Goldschmidt Track” and I decided to walk up it.  I figured this was a short up and over type of viewpoint walk based on the direction of the trail, so I continued on.  Being a “newbie” to town, I didn’t realize how far the walk was from the beach to the “town” where I hoped to grab a morning coffee before my bigger hike of the day.  Well, as it turns out, I chose a longer than a short viewpoint walk.  After going up and down over the coastal “heads” several times and perhaps ~2 hours, I ended up at the Village of Mangawhai Heads and was able to get my coffee (I learned all about Flat Whites and how much Kiwis loved their coffee).  With my newfound caffeine induced vigor, I headed BACK to the surf beach after picking up a couple Avos from the roadside stand and readied myself for the hike on the cliffs.

What an incredibly calming and meditative stretch of sand to get to the trailhead.  The mid tide lapped up against tide pools and rock formations as it stretched toward the native grasses lining the shore.  As I got to the trail sign, I noticed that the return walk along the beach would be impossible during mid and high tide.  I hadn’t heard this before, but it seemed as if tide was mid and going out, so I didn’t think too much of it.  *Foreshadowing* The climb to the edges of the cliffs was several stories (I would guess I climbed about 20-25 stories right off the bat) high in mostly even constructed steps.  Once, I made it into the “saddle” if you will, the walk wove in and out of cliffside views and native vegetation.  There were several moments that carved through dense shaded forests only to make the revealing opening that much more special!

As I progressed up high, I started to see the awesome trail alongside the water for the beach return.  There was a very secluded alcove with white sand that I really wanted to check out, but I also noticed how close the waves were crashing to the cliff walls.  I started guessing that I was not indeed traveling during low tide.  So, I continued on and started descending toward the beach in equally as steep staircases as I had previously ascended.  When I got down to the rocky beach, I noticed a beautiful rock arch that seemingly was the way back.  Unfortunately, about 3-5 feet of water was rolling into that arch and then receding back to the sea.  I reckoned that wasn’t very safe to be walking through, so I decided to wait a bit and see if the water was moving out at all.  After snacking on an avo and reading a bit of my book, I walked over to the arch, took off my shoes and tried to peek around the corner to scope out the challenge laid out in front of me. I got about 8 feet in and the water was still coming in furiously, so I decided to be responsible and turn back.  I would return the way I came and enjoy the cliffs moving in the opposite direction.  Luckily, the views only got better and the clear skies gave way to the beautiful islands offshore.  As I descended back down to the beach, I noticed some dark skies rolling in that started to obscure the islands offshore (Taranga and Sail Rock).  Almost like clockwork, as soon as I sat down at the surf beach to read my book, the sky started to spit.  I wasn’t going to risk getting stuck in a quick passing deluge so I heeded the warnings of the booming rumblings and took off from my perch of sandy paradise.

All in all today was a great relaxing day of walking, meditating, observing, and exploring the Mangawhai Heads.

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