The big attraction to Atiu is the Anatakitaki Kopeka Bird Caves and despite my reservations on doing something that was classified as a challenging walk on the makatea with inadequate shoes, I found myself waiting to be picked up for the tour. The fact that I was told that I’d look like mince if I fell wasn’t helping matters at all but there were going to be 4 other people on this tour with me so they all couldn’t be experienced woodsmen right? WRONG. As my luck would have it, I got put in the group with a quick-footed guide and 4 Aussies with sturdy feet who travelled around bush walking.
Before we even started, the idea of this walk was making me feel miserable as I was well out of my comfort zone. Images of the river crossing at Waitakere Ranges kept flashing in my head as that’s my new benchmark for horrific trekking moments. After all was said and done though, this wasn’t as bad as that despite having the same level of difficult to stay upright, the bird cave walk wasn’t as physically exerting.
The other big difference this time around was that I didn’t bail once because I had 5 experienced woodsmen that babied me the entire way. They applied bug spray (Aussie strength) when the mozzies started picking on me; they held my hand when the going got tough (mind you not for comfort but to pull me back on my feet encase I did fall); they guided me along the harder spots with advice on where to step and what would make navigating the makatea easier; and most importantly, they cheered me on when my confidence was dipping low to make sure that I would continue the walk and see every inch of the cave along with them. At the end of the day, I was glad that I did this walk but have absolutely zero desire to ever do anything like it again.