After having a night with a lot of breaks because of four possums trying to get into our backpacks and food packs we got up at 5.30am to see the sunrise from one of the upcoming hills.

As if the trail had approved our arrival after the painful last six days of wind, rain, thunderstorms and other challenges the wind had dropped completely and there were only a few clouds in the sky. What a day to end this journey. We left Twilight Beach and climbed a little bluff and sat down for breakfast.

The day just became more and more beautiful. The scenery changed constantly and the views were just spectacular. What a day to arrive at the Cape.

We circled around the shore and went through a massive dune before we entered the very last beach – Te Werahi Beach.

The very last 5km of the trail.

The three of us noticeably slowed down with every step taking tons of pictures and enjoying the scenery, the weather and just everything. We talked about the trail, what it had done to and with us and how crazy it is that it is already over.
I could still feel how afraid I was to finish. I remember how jealous I was when I had met the first SOBO on the trail after a week or two and they were almost about to finish. I thought “I wish I was already short of finishing and had it all behind me.” Whereas now I look back and understand when they replied “Be glad – you still have the entire journey ahead of you”. So true. We walked along the beach before we had to go around the last little cliff. It was very rocky and the incoming tide made it the last challenge on the trail.

I had told Rose already a few days ago that I would take off at one point of time to arrive at the Cape by myself. It was nothing against her or James. Not at all! I really enjoyed the company so much the last days and I was glad we went through the forest and 90 Mile Beach together. But I just had the feeling I needed to walk their by myself. This journey had started for me a very long time ago.

It has been quite a time since the day at the end of summer 2014 when I had decided to quit my job and the 1.5 years in between until I finally did it. I cut all safety ropes, got rid off all my material stuff, packed my bags to begin this journey with Te Araroa. I went through so many emotional ups and downs, soliloquies, thoughts and I wanted to feel and see what the arrival at the Cape would do to and with me without being distracted. So I took off in my own speed and climbed the last little hill. A last look back.

And then I could clearly see the lighthouse.

Uff. It instantly struck me and I was excited and sad at the same time.

There was no doubt anymore. It was only a matter of minutes until I would be standing there. I slowed down. A last little turn around the hill in front of me before I would go on a paved trail which leads to the lighthouse. I had seen it so many times already on pictures. In every town I had passed postcards of the lighthouse of Cape Reinga were laying around. I knew exactly how it would look like. And then I stood on the trail. I didn’t even want to look up. I stopped. I slowly lifted up my head and saw the lighthouse.

I started strolling down towards it. I wanted to clear my head from all the thoughts that were hitting me. But somehow I couldn’t. It was very chaotic and also somehow disturbing.
And then I stood in front of the lighthouse. I stopped on the very last patch of grass in front of the lighthouse, maybe two meters away from it. I stood there for a long, long time not being able to move forward. I couldn’t and I also didn’t want to. I knew these would be the last two steps until I was officially “done”, off the trail and this journey would have come to an end. I don’t know why. Maybe because I had arrived in a new comfort zone? It’s amazing how quickly you adapt to your environment. Had camping in the bush, drinking water out of brown puddles, being wet for days, being exposed to natures whims, having limited food and all the uncomfortable circumstances which used to be out of my comfort zone now become my life and I guess my new comfort zone? I felt safe when I pitched my tent and went inside. I very often called it my castle. A 1kg piece of ultra-thin fabric that would not even resist a poke of a pencil… Or maybe also because life was so easy on the trail? You always knew what to do – walk, eat, sleep, and repeat. And the only thing you had to do was to look out for the next orange marker. I have one on my backpack now – hopefully it will help me from now on.

I took my hat off and whispered “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” That’s all I could say besides a few tears.
Thank you for an amazing and life changing experience.
Thank you New Zealand for an amazing journey through your beautiful countryside.
Thank you to all the people alongside the trail which supported, hosted, fed, driven me, made me smile, cheered me up, inspired me and actually made this journey to what it has been.

I walked the last two steps and touched the lighthouse with great awe. I walked around it and for the first time in the last days I was clear and empty. I walked over to the sign post and also touched it. I was still very calm, just sat down, and looked at both of them.

I was happy but in a never before experienced way. Somewhat fulfilled, amazed, overwhelmed and full of respect for the trail. It also did not feel as if I had accomplished something great. Not at all. You would think that after five month, covering 3.008km from Bluff to Cape Reinga and being on the trail for 100 days with the obvious target of arriving at the Cape you would feel proud or something similar for reaching this goal. I can’t really put it into words. I was just thankful and full of humility that I had the chance to go through all of this, experiencing Te Araro and to be on a journey to myself.

Rose and James arrived and woke me up. We started celebrating. It took me a while but a big finisher hug from Rose finally brought me back. We messed around and probably took 200 pictures.

My journey on Te Araroa. A first stage on a longer journey, I have the feeling…