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Walking Farewell Spit

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From the end of the Spit, land flattens. Gannets squawk and wheel on the low islets further out, awash on king tides, swept by storms. The lighthouse flashes as the sun sinks in the west. I stretch my arms wide, this low sand bank is the very end of land, the last point of a mighty pile of sand. An amazing, magical place of wilderness.

For the official record, I never walked the 38km to Farewell Spit lighthouse and back. The spit is a nature reserve and bird sanctuary, so walking beyond the 3km public access area is an illegal and punishable offense. Lets just say I lost track of time, and distance. My bare feet ached and blistered.

The island of trees at the end hover above vast eelgrass, rush and sand flats exposed at low tide. Its tempting to cut right across, walking way out into the void, until rushing tide comes in. I kept to the middle, sneaking commando style from dune to dune, hiding from the tourist trucks patrolling the ocean beach. The biggest dunes are near the base, massive ergs marram topped. A surprising amount of vegetation carries on right to the end. Thick gorse, flax and manuka scrub alternates with wide rush flats, and small freshwater lakes.

Mullet Creek splits the spit on big tides. Solo dunes stand proud to the west, the ocean beach windswept and wide. Further out the spit narrows, rush inside, beach outside. The trees draw closer. A box of flares. Mussel buoys. The iron frame of the lighthouse, and white painted buildings. A cold night under the pines. The mown track carries on to the end, and the gannets.

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