So my weekend started out early on Saturday morning, waking up at a seemingly obscene hour to find the map towards where we were going. Piha Beach.
Piha Beach is a black sand beach on the West Coast of New Zealand. We’ll get to the black sand bit a little later. But first on our agenda, past getting there, was to go on a nature walk along Kitekite Trail in the Waitakere ranges national park.
Now, I will pause here for a moment, I said Nature Walk. It was more like a Hike. But again, I’m getting ahead of myself.
The ride from Auckland out to the West Coast was beautiful. Tall hills and mountains, deep valleys, lush with trees everywhere. We drove along the winding roads through vineyards and sheep farms, winding our way up the mountains and in and around and down. The views were breathtaking and startling. So much so, that I got very few pictures.
I was too busy clutching the map and the handle on the car door for dear life. E is not a dangerous or aggressive driver by any stretch of the imagination. However, those roads are just killer. hairpin turns at 40km/h are not conducive to taking pictures.
But we finally got to the top of one of the hills, and we were rewarded with a small overlook spot, and a view of beautiful Piha Beach and the imposing Lion Rock
Impressive, isn’t it?
But that was our destination for later in the day. First, Kitekite trail. So we hopped back into the car, munched on a bit more of our delicious breakfast (pizza sticks from Shakespeare’s Bakery in Milford) and drove down to Glenesk road and the start of Kitekite trail.
Now, I picked this trail because of the description on the Piha site. that it was a walking trail, fairly easy, and there were waterfalls at the end. They said it was a good walk for just about anybody to do.
Granted, I know that I’m not in good shape. But I foolishly thought that having been doing 1km or more walks every day with hills would help. Man, I was still so very out of shape. But again, getting ahead of myself.
The trail itself is gorgeous. It runs along a babbling brook of a stream (that comes from the waterfall surprise surprise!) and the water is so very clear.
And it’s like that the whole way through. With little rapids and tiny falls all along the trail. And honestly some of the coolest looking trees I have ever seen.
But, in the end, we were climbing up. up and up and up. every up. occasionally there would be a flat section, someplace wide enough for me to have a small breakdown, let the people on the trail behind us go past. I was going through so many moments of self doubt and loathing. But E was always right there, offering support, love, and his shoulder to cry on. He sheltered me from the other hikers, so they couldn’t see the fat girl having an emotional breakdown in the middle of a trail.
But he would not let me go back. He would not let me quit. And I am so glad that he didn’t. Because we made it to the top of the trail, and to the waterfalls.
It really was rather breathtaking. And I’m not just saying that because I am fat and out of shape and couldn’t breathe. The sight of the waterfalls, the blue sky above, and everything in between was completely worth it.
of course, we still had to go back down. And so the long trek down began. This essentially involved heading down the opposite side of the gorge on formed steps. now, these steps were formed from wooden frames with it seemed like hardened clay, dirt, and rock in the form. There were no handrails and I was suddenly very easily reminded of not only my fragile fleshiness, but of my near paralyzing fear of heights. But downhill we went, my legs shaking and shivering the entire way. Stopping occasionally when I got so afraid that I just couldn’t go on.
but, we made it down. And across the rocks that held us up on one side, with the help of E, who took off his shoes and socks, waded into the water and held my hands and hips until I got across the rocks.
From there, it was an easy walk back to the cars and off to the beach.
Now, lets have a nice talk about the beach.
It’s gorgeous. It’s stunning, it’s absolutely amazing. And it’s black sand. Sounds cool right?
Well, it is rather awesome, but cool? No. Somewhere along the lines there was a strong disconnect between my head and the words ‘black’ and ‘sand’. For some reason, I didn’t think too much about how the color black absorbs heat, and how regular sand gets hot in the afternoon sun, so obviously black sand would get hot too.
Bad disconnect to make.
Let’s talk about searing pain. the kind that makes tears spring to your eyes and sends you running for the closest thing that is not the black sand. In e’s case, he made it to grass. In my case, I darted for the asphalt.
The asphalt was cooler on my feet than the sand. I’m going to let that sink in for a bit. Got it. Excellent.
In other words, do not walk on the black sand unless you are prepared to run and or have shoes on. At least, not on the dry black sand. Once we got down to the wet sand, things were fine. It was a beautiful day, and we both remembered our sun screen, so no surprise sunburn this time. We didn’t spend much time at the beach, but the time that we did spend only made me want to come back.
One of the really impressive sites along the water was Lion Rock. This is a large rock that just sticks up in the middle of everything. If you look closely at the rock, you can tell that it’s volcanic in formation and it is really fascinating.
On the side of Lion Rock there are 2 plaques dedicated to the memories of the waitakere community who died in both WWI and WWII.
After a long day of walking and hiking and facing fears and beating them down for at least the moment, it was time to head home.
We stopped off at a place about halfway back down called ‘Elevations’. The food was so so, but the view was worth it. From their outdoor porch you could see everything, from where we were hiking all the way across the island to Auckland Harbor. If you looked out closely, you could make out the Harbor Bridge and the Sky Tower. Quite the perspective adapter, realizing that I was literally looking out over the island.
And that, my friends, is my adventure to Piha Beach and Kitekite trail.
Stay tuned, there may or may not be a more in depth post about the frailty of my human body and the fears that leap within my mind, and the brave knight who is finding ways to combat those evils and bring me into this world of happiness.
There may also be a post about Bubble Tea later. Ah, the mysteries and the wonder that are Bubble Tea. I may never figure them out.