The pitter patter of light rain woke us early on the final day of the Heaphy. What was it with us, tents and rain.
We were up before seven, no mucking around with boiling the billy today, just guzzled back a bit of water, unhooked our packs from the shelter, shoved our bits and pieces back where they belonged and then hit the track.
We were feeling a bit weary and also a little elated — we were finally on the last leg. This wonderful, changeable and stunning tramp was almost over.
The weather, although up and down, had been kind to us, enabling uninterrupted views of the landscape, our raincoats had kept out the elements, long-sleeved tops and bottoms had mostly warded off the famous man-eating sandflies, our feet were tired but pretty dry and we were never cold.
The odd cheeky robin along the way kept us company, but sadly there was no dawn chorus to herald in the new day.
The nikau forest thickened on the last day, with palms growing up and hanging off steep cliffs. Walking through this part of the track was just fantastic— palms to the left, overhead, in front and back and the roaring ocean to the right, the white sands given way to a rocky shore — we could have been on any tropical island.
But as with the rest of this long walk, nothing stayed the same.
From narrow tracks, we were once again crossing long swingbridges, some of them fairly new and towering over wide, sparkling rivers.
The clouds began to gather as we passed by a spectacular and secluded inlet, drawing closer to the Kohaihai Shelter near Scotts Beach — end of the road.
Hard to say how we felt as the signpost emerged, a few more steps and there was the shelter. We dumped our packs, sat on the seat and then the heavens opened — couldn't have timed it better.
As torrential rain pelted down, we cooked up our last sachet — apricot crumble — and almost, but not quite, choked on it as a couple of older trampers, eager to rid themselves of four or five days of clinging clothes, downed trou, bared their buttocks proudly and donned their clean duds.
All's well that ends well.