You guessed it: I started early this morning, but this time it was required. Right in front of Awaroa Hut is Awaroa Inlet, and it MUST be crossed. There is no all tidal track alternative like every other part of the track, so it must be crossed two hours on either side of low tide. In this case, low tide was around 0630. So when I woke up early, for the first time, I wasn’t alone.
This crossing will get your feet wet, so I initially decided to cross in my beach shoes. However that quickly proved untenable, because my shoes became filled with rocks and shells. It was less painful to cross barefoot, though I had to be careful where I put my feet. Fording shallow tidal rivers was easy, but I didn’t enjoy the rocks and shells underneath my feet. My feet are rather sensitive to pain, which is a bit surprising considering how hideous they can look if they haven’t been exfoliated in a while.
It took about 20 minutes to cross the inlet. Once across, I donned my hiking boots for the final six kilometers to Totaranui Beach, which was the final end spot for me. You can add another day of hiking out to Wainui Bay, but I elected not to when I realized that getting transportation out of that site was rather difficult. Most of the hike was again in lush coastal forests and up hills and down hills. Occasionally a sea view would emerge and then the final beach trek at Waiharakeke Beach.
Knowing only 30 minutes of walking remained made the very last series of steep switchbacks easier to bear. The final look out was at Skinner Point, and I could overlook the promised land- or at least my final destination of Totaranui Beach.
10 minutes later, I gratefully dropped my pack in the shade of trees as I finished and arrived at the beach. It was four days and 38 kilometers of beautiful coast walk. There are busses and water taxis for the return journey, but I elected for the bus, because it would take me back to Nelson in less time and less money than it would have cost me to take a water taxi back to Marahau and then a bus back to Nelson. The only thing that stood between me and a refreshing shower (which I needed very much) was a three hour bus ride back to my hostel. But I did it. I completed my first multi day hike and I was ready for more.