A late start. Typical.

I was delayed by my task of packing food and equipment for a month or so, but also separating out everything needed for an overnight tramp.

The option to go over to Blue Mountain Hut evaporated when I noted the hut was “closed” by DOC, whatever that meant.

Instead, Black Birch Hut a short way up the Awatere Valley seemed good for an overnight. Just 3.5 hours trudging steeply up a hill.

When I finally made it to the carpark up the Awatere Valley, the sign in the car park actually stated 4.5 hours. The photo of the sign I had seen on the Internet was from the boundary of DOC land, around 3 km away.

That meant my 2 pm departure from the carpark would conflict with the 5 30 pm lack of winter daylight.

Time to make haste.

The first section, however, is reasonably flat and doubles as a well-maintained mountain bike track. Cruisy.

Some moderate climbing, mostly constant and not really noticeable until looking back. At the river crossing that didn’t require wet feet, a spectacular cleft in the rock with water gushing through.

Then the climbing began and was also constant. Footprints I had been following disappeared but reappeared higher up.

As expected, darkness quickly fell and my headlight was required. These days I take two, just in case, with a battery around the wrong way to avoid draining unnecessary power when not in use. Been there, done that.

The track flattened at the top, and then it was just a case of finding the hut in the pitch black.

And fearsome breeze.

Few markers due to the rocky terrain, and lack of trees to nail markers to. No track discernible.

I spotted the reflection of my light on the roof in the distance with my powerful beam, but getting closer I needed my NZ Topo50 app to approach, as I didn’t see the hut until just before I bumped into it.


Then I found an important thing I omitted from my luggage. No burner, although I had two gas canisters.

Man, no hot dinner. Or much for breakfast.

Luckily I had an excess of nuts and muesli bars. And there was also water in two water tanks.

In bed at 7 30 pm.

The bivvy is narrow and it seems to be only 6 feet wide, and I’m 2 inches taller than that. Not quite comfortable, but certainly warm after a while.

Meanwhile, the hut was rocking in the breeze.

+++++horizontal rule+++++

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Black Birch Bivvy

Good views down the valley. | Black Birch Bivvy, Ferny Gair Conservation Area
Day 2 | Out to Kaikoura →