Rain on the way.

Thought it best to make tracks early to avoid said rain, and that also had the benefit of low tide. I could walk along the flat sand rather than stagger through roundy pebbles further up the beach, and plunder the mussels on the rocks at the south end of the beach.

Yeah, that worked.

I had anticipated there might be more mussels on offer along the coast, but in the end I only had my one feed at Gorge River, and a late lunch today at Martins Bay after I arrived.

My dehydrated food is lasting well. Last night I ate a stray de-hi meal donated by N that changed the flavour on offer for once. Tonight it’s back to the same old.

Not long before I break out to civilisation once again. Only four more days until Te Anau, where a big supermarket and various food shops await.

Still plenty of food in my pack, just becoming over-familiar after more than two weeks.

I ended up having Big Bay Hut to myself for the two nights, even the sandflies kept away for the most part. I read two more books on offer from the hut library.

On my way around the rocks, now loaded down with a kilo of mussels, I stumbled across a moulting Fiordland crested penguin at Penguin Rock. Seemed quite embarrassed by its lack of plumage, just a few fluffy charcoal feathers.

Not long after, I ran into six pack rafters high tailing it for the Pyke River. Clearly that’s now a thing. Half the entries in the hut book at Big Bay Hut are from pack rafters. Five people playing follow the leader with the heavy loads, including the paddles.

We chatted a few minutes, no, that’s not greenstone but it is a green stone, until the stragglers caught up. Someone finding the pebbles hard going with the loads.

Unfortunately, in the outdoors stragglers don’t get any respite. Catch up, and the others are soon off in another hurry.

Now I just scoot across the surfaces without a care: round boulders, no worries at all.

But today it’s all gravel with a few bigger rocks.

Just plod on.

A kilometre or two before Long Reef Point some marker buoys indicated a track up in the scrub that turned into a kilometre of relatively newly cut track along an old pack track. That made a change getting in behind kiekie and flax, and winding my way along a few ups and downs.

I thought it didn’t really save any time, but it did avoid the seal colony at high tide, and this is the time of year the pups are still small, the parents ferocious.

At the time I recognised those days since arriving at barn Bay 10 days ago of relentless coast walking were now over.

Now I just need to fang on out over the Demon Trail.

I popped out onto the Long Reef Track, almost Great Walk style, and had a huge view along the monster sense but on the other side of the river. I could also see up the Hollyford River, although mist had cut out all hint of the major mountains to the west of Lake McKerrow/Whakatipu Waitai.

Misty drizzle started doing its thing.

Maybe that rain is on its way after all.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Martins Bay Hut

Love the verandahs and not for the sun shading.  | Martins Bay Hut, Hollyford Track
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