This morning my pickup came at 8.15 and a very cheery driver drove me and a few other hikers to Kaiteriteri beach, again past many orchards and vineyards and picturesque little houses surrounded by big rolling hills with deep green trees dotting the crests, that by some Dutch could be categorised small mountains but objectively are somewhere between the two. Mum had told me of this beautiful Kaiteriteri beach but when the bus pulled up I was really blown away by the scenery. Wow. The sand is yellow. Not white or creamy white or greyish yellow or brown, really yellow. Crayon yellow. Lemon yellow. Yellower than custard! It's amazing. And the water is turquoise blue and there are grey rocky outcrops with shrubbery and some pretty trees lining the edges of the small bay. It's a gorgeous beach. I understand why the BBC put it in the top 5 beaches of the world. The water taxi was waiting, so along with a horde of others I claimed a place on the deck, dangling my legs off the edge of the boat. The sun was shining and there was a school of silvery fish darting beneath my feet. It was lovely. The first place the boat slowed down was by the edge of the National Park, near a rock called Split Apple Rock, a rock that is millions of years old and is split in two. It can be seen in Lord of the Rings, according to the captain of the boat. Then the boat headed for the park. The park is just as beautiful as Kaiteriteri. There are little coves with beaches everywhere with a steep hilly coastline covered in forest. The hills rose higher and higher the further inland they went which meant the scenery was stunning, the hills getting higher and darker the further back they went as clouds were hovering inland. The boat stopped at a few bays dropping people off and then cruised past Pinnacle Island where there were some seals chilling in the sun and some pups crying out for their mums. There were also some penguins perched on a rock. Yes, there are penguins here! Have to love penguins. Anyway, the boat left me on a deserted beach in a lovely little bay with high cliffs all around. I was determined to do the full 5 hour walk, not sure how far it was, just time it would take. So I set off on the forest track that pointed me in the right direction. It said 12.2 km. That's quite a way, I thought. But I was determined so I happily marched past the sign at a good pace. The track was gorgeous. Lot of use of positive words in this entry, sorry. But it's true! The track was lovely, trees on all sides with views of the water through the greenery. The track went up and down, hugging the coastline, leading from bay to bay. Sometimes the trees would suddenly open up and there would be a stunning lookout over the blue water and the rocky outcrops by the sea. Unfortunately, right after I had started walking, New Zealand pulled one of its famous weather turns on me and a huge blanket of cloud rolled in over the park. The sun vanished but it was still warm and I was glad I was wearing shorts for the first time since I got to New Zealand (yeah really, the first time… the weather hasn't been too special here…)! Halfway along the path there is a very scary wobbly rope bridge over a lagoon. Very nice. Anyway, I followed the path and was pleased to find I arrived at the next pickup bay after the 2.25 hours indicated on the sign. That was 6.4 km into the walk. I had stopped on the way to make photos and stuff so was pretty happy with my timing J I had some lunch on the beach and then decided to start on the next part of the walk. My pickup was at 3.45pm so I had to get to the next beach by then, else I was in trouble. I had a 1.75 hour walk to go and 2.5 hours to do it so I hurried on my way, now finally switching on my iPod. I hadn't used it on the first half but needed some upbeat tunes to keep my speed up so half danced my way up the track, haha. At some point I got to a signpost that said to go left, but the track to the right went up to Cleopatra's pool, a famous birthing pool for seals. Now it isn't birthing season but it's still quite stunning some locals told me so I took the risk and ran up to look. The track was about half a kilometre so I rushed there, hopped from one rock to another across the stream to the pool, took some photos, and rushed back. I hurried on, all the while blown away by the nature of the forest and the views from up on the edge of the estuary. I finally got to the beach with about half an hour to spare so I plonked myself down in the sand and read my book for a while. Lovely. The water taxi came to take us back to Kaiteriteri and at that moment the clouds vanished into thin air, of course. Typical. You can never control the weather, right dad? Back in the hostel I tumbled onto my bed and fell asleep. All in all I walked 13.1 km. Not too bad for me J Now I've eaten, I'm off to bed again. Zzzz.