As it turned out my tent was not required. Rain was apparently on the agenda so instead, I made use of my new sleeping mat and dossed down on the concrete floor of Andrew Shelter.

It may have been a dream, but around 2 30 am two guys arrived with the familiar click of bikes, and stayed for a few hours, relatively noiselessly, then headed off at first light. Never spoke a word to me.

Two DOC staff had turned up, and talked to the cyclists in murmuring tones. Then, by the time I bounded up, I was on my own for breakfast.

I came this way five years ago, back before the original Casey Hut burned down. That was a few months after my visit.

Totally overcast and windy, but it’s supposed to clear up.

It’s an easy walk after the Edwards and Lake Stream. 80% of the climbing is immediate and then the track undulates through forest. After a few hours, I burst out into Hallelujah Flat and could see the surrounding mountains. Well, if it wasn’t cloudy.

You hardly notice Casey Saddle except the river has dried up and you start heading down.

The forest is mostly splendid, but there are two outstanding scenes.

Firstly, is a stand of mountain beech trees draped in Old Man’s Beard. They look like drooping spiderwebs of gigantic proportion. Later, as the main descent begins you get out on a flat ridge that has quite a few New Zealand cedar trees that are a remarkable sight. It’s an inhospitable perch.

The old hut burned down but signage to the new hut is vague, and where it is needed, non-existent.

I followed a beaten path that looks suspicious and suddenly, on top of a river terrace, out of sight, was the hut. And some faces looking out.

Four DOC workers were temporarily stationed to do work on the near-extinct orange fronted parakeet. Only a few left in this valley, and they estimated it was probably only ten. They’ve been wiped out in the Hawdon Valley recently by rats, but are currently doing well in the Hurunui South Branch with numbers in the low hundreds.

← Day 4 | Andrews Shelter: more going back over old ground Day 6 | Pete Stream: I like this tent →