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Day 91 Zealandia and more

Wednesday 8 January Porirua to end of Orharu Valley Road Start 5.05pm Finish 8.45pm Distance 9.5km (plus 2 hour walking at Zealander, and a couple of more km around the city and to the train.) Total 1,659.5km Steps 26,106 Elevation: 459m Weather: some clouds, cool evening, no wind That was a brilliant day. Chontelle and I started our day at a leisurely pace, getting up late and wondering around Lampton Quay until 11.30am . We then indulged in a Mad Hatters High Tea. Very decadent. From there we took a guided tour of Zealandia - Wellington's equivalent of the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary. Wow. Just wow. The guide was incredibly knowledgeable and identified the numerous bird songs. Unbelievably we saw a tīeke (saddleback). The guide said this was rare although they are frequently heard. Also spotted hihi and titipounamu (rifleman) which is NZs smallest bird, a tiny green ball of feathers with no tail, hence it's name (titi meaning small and pounamu is green stone) . The park introduced 60 of these rare birds only a short time ago. Also saw a number of tuatara. Not in cages - just sunning themselves on banks in the park.

Thank you Chontelle for indulging me and my passion. It is such an amazing place. To make these rare birds available for people to experience and enjoy, right in the heart of sububria, takes such vision and dedication of so many. It makes me so proud to be part of the Brook Sanctuary, and in awe of those who first dreamed it could be possible. Late afternoon and Chontelle had to fly back to Nelson, and I decided to get a couple of hours of the trail completed. The primary reason was to shorten the distance tomorrow which would otherwise be 32km. So it was a train back to Porirua, and I took up the trail where I left off. After some zig zagging through the town centre and industrial areas, it was up and up (and up and up), hundreds of steps through some surprisingly lovely bush.

Just before I started the bush track I heard a voice behind me calling my name. Unbelievably it was Moritz (Morris) from Germany. I last saw him with Joanna in Taumarunui. I didn't think anyone I have previously met would not be miles ahead of me with the number of days rest and side trips I do. Evidently Moritz also takes his time and does side trips. It was great to catch up. He peeled off to stay at a campground and I continued on. Once the summit was reached (459m), the track opened out onto farm land and then into pine forest. I had anticipated camping in the pine forest but there was a no camping sign at the beginning of the track into it, and I had failed to notice the contours on the map - it was steep with no possible campsites. Normally not a concern but it was now after 8pm, and there was about an hour of walking to get through the forest and a road at the other end. I believe I have managed to squeeze my tiny tent into the smallest possible space under some trees, just before the track end. As it was fairly dark by the time I got here I calculated no one else would be on the trail to tell me to move on, and I will make sure I'm up early before anyone comes by. Anyone would be pretty hard pressed to see my tent anyway. I have the sound of a small stream to sooth me to sleep and once again morepork. It has been an inspiring day.

Campsite night 91

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