With all that food aboard, I was in no great hurry to go elsewhere.

Blue skies. Warm.

Bunnies hopping around. I counted eight out one window and seven another without much effort. Two black ones stood out in the landscape as they chased each other around.

As I approached the hut yesterday, I saw two big commercial rafts negotiating the river. A decent flow had allowed them to get this far by 4 pm, presumably having launched at the Acheron Homestead.

They waved out and paddled on.

My travel philosophy has become much slower. Sit around more. Notice things, and not let the world all pass by in a blur.

My lack of ambition would surely infuriate any companion as I fossicked for orchids or just tried to come to terms with the smashed-up landscape. For many trampers, motion is imperative, with an objective to be gained.

I’m adjusting to my body slowing as the years tick on by. It’s had its share of 14-hour, furious days in the past and is telling me with odd niggles that it ain’t so keen for excessive activity for the day.

Lots of birds to be heard, and a seven-strong family of Californian quail trotted in single file at great pace through the grass.

I smiled.

Just a note on the landscape. No trees. Not even remnant patches in damp gullies other than manuka. The predominant vegetation is sweet briar, the original rootstock of roses bought out from the Mother Country in the 1860s, which have colonised this new environment. It was coming into flower with tiny pink buds to be seen. Unspecified pasture grass in between and some equally prickly matagouri.

It’s one of the most geologically active areas of an earthquake-rich land as the Pacific Plate slowly shuffles under the Australian Plate. The hills are increasing in height as fast as anywhere in the world, and even the extensive erosion of the steep hillsides isn’t negating that.

It’s big harsh country, and I have come to love it.

I walked down the river’s edge to have breakfast and noted three four-wheel drives parked near Seymour Stream on the other side of the bluff I avoided yesterday. Downstream were the rafts whose inhabitants had camped at the other end of the river flat after all.

I wandered down for some human interaction and found they had taken two nights to get this far, in part because they were required to drive from Kaikoura to Hamner and on to Acheron, then waited as the huge rafts were pumped up with air.

They were all smiles at the thrill of a five-night cruise on this Grade 3 river.

Later, two mountain bikers arrived, and some good conversation ensued. They were training for the Sound to Sound mountain bike tour. That’s Marlborough to Milford, around 1500 km, with almost half on gravel roads, Molesworth and Central Otago included.

Eventually, I dragged a mattress onto the veranda as the hut was already overly warm.

So much pleasant socialisation and another deep sleep despite my lack of energy expenditure.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Forbes Hut

The hut is on a river terrace some distance from the river. | Forbes Hut (renamed Seymour Hut), Clarence River
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