June 13

We woke up in the morning to discover that we were in one of the most beautiful campsites that we had stayed in yet. Kohaihai is at the start (or end) of the Heaphy Track. It is right on the beach. We knew immediately that we were going to stay another night.

We wandered around the site and even did a short walk through the Nikau Track, which is near the Heaphy. It was an overgrown walk, with lots of nikau trees (from what I understand, they are the palmy ones).

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We decided to head up to see two of the local landmarks, Oparara Arch and Moria Gate Arch. The Oparara Arch is a massive limestone arch formed by water over time. It is 37 meters high, 49 meters wide and 200 meters long. It is impossible to describe how huge it is.

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We even took a picture of me in front of the arch as a comparison.

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(I’m hard to see as I’m wearing green!)

The walks out to the arches were like a different world. The plant life and trees were different than anything else I had seen. There are moss covered trees and huge limestone slabs in the rivers. One of the locals whom we had met during the rock slide said that it was like walking through Middle Earth. I think it was more like a mix between Middle Earth and a Dr. Seuss book!

On the way to Moria Gate (yes, I had hoped it would be the entrance to Moria from Lotr), we stopped at Mirror Tarn. It was a lake that was completely flat. The reflections were perfect.

Moria Gate was much smaller than Oparara, but I enjoyed it. It was much easier to take in and process. Also, it looked more like an arch, whereas Oparara almost seemed like a cave.

We headed back to Kohaihai after our 10 miles of walking for the day. We decided to have our first campfire of the trip. We cooked dinner (curried chickpeas with vegetables) over an open flame and Zhoel even taught me to make damper, a type of camping bread. We enjoyed our fire, played cards and watched the stars from the beach.

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