Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tora Coastal Walk in New Zealand

Walking is a privileged place of discovery for me. A place to think, breathe, dream and when walking with another, time to talk together. To walk brings clarity, often solutions.
Life brings us moments of joy and thankfulness, as well as days of disappointment and desperation, and in both I find myself walking. Rain, hail or shine I like to walk everyday.
'All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking'
- Friedrich Nietzsche
In March this year we went on a very lovely three day walk, not your average walk mind you, something quite special. 
It was my first visit to the land of New Zealand, where I was doing a Naked Food Cookbook promo tour of the lower part of the North Island. We managed to schedule into my itinerary the Tora Coastal Walk, which Mr G and I did with our New Zealand born friends, Jeff and Wendy.
The three day walk encompasses a variety of stunning and diverse scenery: expansive farmland, native bush, river valleys and the spectacular Tora coastline. You spend each night enjoying the rural ambience of one of the three unique farm cottages. The hosts of each farmhouse were incredibly hospitable and every comfort had been considered for a restful night in between each day of walking. All your meals are provided, so we were dining on the most delicious local produce of the region.
Day One we walked from Whakapata Cottage to Stony Bay Lodge, a 15.5 kilometre walk with breathtaking scenery of farmland, sheep and forests. There was a quite a bit of uphill climbing to contend with on this stretch of the walk. As we came towards the end of the first day we caught glimpses of the distant coast and the weather began to close in on us. The Stony Bay Lodge, with its coastal views and decadent open fire place, was a welcome sight for our weary legs and hungry tummies.
Day Two we continued from Stony Bay Lodge along the coastline to the next farmhouse known as The Shearers Quarters, a much easier day of walking 8-11 kilometres on the edge of the sea, an optional uphill climb to The Trig awaited us at the end. The walk to the Trig was a steep, what they describe as 'gut-busting' climb to the top, worth doing to be rewarded with unsurpassed views out to the coast.
Day Three our final day of walking was 11-13 kilometres, with quite different scenery, travelling along the edge of the river in the morning light and then passing through a rainforest of 'old man' Kowhai trees. There was another optional lookout to visit along the way. We arrived back at Whakapata Cottage early in the afternoon, having completed the circuit of the three farms and cottages over the three days.
I would highly recommend the Tora Coastal Walk, it is ridiculously reasonably priced, the food is first class, the scenery world class and the people sharing their farmland and cottages are just delightful. A really charming experience, you need not worry about carrying your bags on the walk from cottage to cottage either, as the postman picks them up each morning from the door of the cottage and does that for you!
The Tora Coastal Walk season is from October 1st to April 30th each year (closed December 18th to Jan 5th) more info here
I've tried to capture the beauty and diversity of the walk for you in the following images...however nothing beats going and seeing for yourself!

'I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out til sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in'
- John Muir

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