Nov 2 day 63 Paekakariki to Porirua 26 km 8:00-2:00
Woke in the middle of the night to a soft sprinkle on my tent. New Zealand more often than not has a heavy mist going on, particularly at night. Not quite rain, but heavier than fog. It makes a noise on the tent (the cuben fiber fabric makes a crisp sound) that sounds as if there is more rain than is actually coming down. I just needed to hike 26 km on a flat path today, so I was in no real hurry to get started. The trail passed through the village end so I stopped at the Perching Parrot coffee shop for breakfast — free range eggs– and a flat white. The barista was a woman whom I had seen at the campground last night– we joked about the rain and my sleeping in a tent. Spent most of the day hiking in cloudy, misty, windy weather, fortunately the wind was at my back. Worked my way down the Kapiti coast, basically following the railroad tracks– the passenger train that runs out of Wellington which made me realize how close I now was. The sandy beaches started giving way to rocky coast– clearly volcanic in origin– surf was rough and forbidding, such a contrast from yesterday’s sunny swimming competition. But it never really started raining hard, and it felt good to stride out in cool weather. Got to Plimmer around 11:00 and had coffee and a snack at the Kafe Orange, also a nice place. Small village cafes are spoiling me; they are one thing NZ does very well. Made me think back on my month this summer in Oxford North Carolina where the only free internet with coffee was the McDonalds (something I just could not bring myself to do though I’ll admit I have used the NZ McDonalds wifi on occasion). Early afternoon found me in Porirua. I usually imagine what it would be like to live for a while in the towns I visit. Porirua holds no attraction. Mostly warehouse buildings housing heavy trades and a small downtown with the usual takeaway shops, gaming parlors, but no character. And not a single place you would want to sit and sip a pint in. The weather still looked forbidding, but the Camp Elsdon site had a cheap single cabin. Walked downtown and had a pint at the only pub which is either “The Dog Box” or “Murphy’s Irish Pub”–another place full of gambling machines and semi-desperate patrons. I was not so much worried about the rain as I was the high winds. Tomorrow will be a lot of km, but at the end of the day I’ll be in Wellington.