Well, that turned out to be another energetic day!

Even without my pack, the route was vigorous. No track is shown on my topo map, but of course, being a New Zealand Forest Service hut, they generally have a track.

I headed straight up the river and discovered the remains of an old stone base hut, Ayre Hut, according to the Dog Kennel Bivvy hutbook.

Shortly after that, about an hour upstream from my campsite, the creek went into a gorge, and I forged on. At one point, I came to an obstacle and decided to go back, but instead, I piled up a few rocks, which assisted me in scrabbling up.

Then I saw a faint track up the side of the gorge, hauled myself up, and was rewarded with a cairn on the ridge on the beach forest. An old track really helped me progress.

It wasn’t long before the route descended slowly to the creek, but the gorge had opened out, and it was easy enough to continue rock hopping.

The hut was fairly ancient, and had some 1943 deer cullers graffiti above the door.

It had been narrowly avoided being demolished by a fallen tree.

I mucked around for an hour and then headed back, following the track, mostly, skirting around the top of the gorge and certainly easier than the morning’s effort.

No DOC signage. Just occasional cairns.

Back at my pack it was now 3 pm, the time I arrived the day before. No thought of camping again, I was headed to Growler Hut, initially cross-country.

Not long before I got onto the main track, and that was confirmed by a convoy of six four-wheel drives who sped past at pace, but the wrong way for me.

I was not sure about which track to choose from the two on offer, so I thought I’d go on the low route. After a while, it became apparent the main Rangitata River was hard against the old moraine wall, and with the braided river looking swift, deep, and pretty milky, I decided to climb up to the high track.

Halfway up the loose moraine, I almost concluded I should return to the car, but by the time I hit the track at the top, despite being able to see the car park, I marched on.

In the end I only made it to Black Mountain Hut, a private hut I camped outside. The more than 100-year-old trees looked possible, but the wind was whistling with intensity, so in the lee of the hut seemed obvious.

I retreated to my tent fairly quickly, but was awoken by the sound of a four-wheel-drive. Enquired if I was lost, but my line that I had visited Dog Kennel Bivvy and it had taken longer than expected satisfied a local.

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