Woke to rain and wind. That’s serious West Coast rain.

A trip to that toilet-with-a-view will be quite the expedition.

Luckily the hut is tied securely down with four massive stainless steel ropes. It shook vigorously with each mighty gust. The hut is completely exposed to wind, sitting up on a huge glacial polished rock.

The rivers are clearly way up.

Being Day 6 I feel entitled to have a proper day of rest. My body is feeling the effort, this is not exactly a Great Walk. There’s been plenty of awkwardness of movement, in just getting over the terrain, and my body I noticed has bruises to prove the effort. Various scratches, particularly around my right hand as I grapple with the vegetation. At night my lower back is sore enough to make turning over a task.

This standard mostly desk bound, middle-aged bloke put in little, no, physical preparation for the trip. This may have been a mistake.

The initial idea had been to start with a week of four-wheel-drive tracks in Marlborough, not the intensity of these sharp West Coast mountains and flooded rivers. The Kaikoura earthquake and lack of access to that end of my proposed route meant I had required to come up with a different plan and I simply reversed my summer’s itinerary. My on the spot training had really started in the deep end.

If I had tackled this at the end of my summer walking marathon, my body would be considerably more accustomed to the rigours.

By lunchtime a weak sun shone through, the type that fails to heat much, and I felt sufficiently optimistic about the weather to hang my tent out once more. I left it in the porch overnight where due to driving rain it became considerably moister than the previous night’s condensation had initially contributed.

As the cloud clears, well lifts, I can make out the track up to Toaroha Saddle and there is not much zigging or zagging apparent. Direct A to B style travel from valley floor to saddle. It will be a 650 m grunt that some have mentioned in the hut book.

The track down to the Hokitika River swingbridge looks as if it will be even steeper.

By 2 pm it has cleared considerably, and I can occasionally see the peak of Mount Bannatyne, 1808 m, and even a ridge around to Mount Ambrose, 2014 m, further to the east.

It’s Big Country, perilously steep, and I can see why few venture in here. There is a substantial slip not so far away, loose glacial rocks exposed and not having vegetative growth.

It all seems huge, kind of overwhelming.

My body aches all over and is appreciating the day of not moving much.

My tent has finally dried as much as it will hanging in the breeze, but my ripped arse shorts, hat and boots are still trying to dry.

5 pm. The waterfall just across on Mount Ross is still flowing vigorously, but everything else is subdued. It’s the brightest it has been all day.

A weka has called in and pecked at my blue raincoat. There’s the occasional sound of a kea in the distance.

I’ve been sitting reading a book most of the day. I needed that.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Bluff Hut

The hut is perched near the edge of a bluff. | Bluff Hut, Hokitika River, West Coast
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