I enjoyed Bluff Hut, it would be one of my favourites due to the view and the layout. It has been completely rebuilt from its four bunk days before it was relocated 100 m across the hill in 2009. Now it has double glazed windows, new floor, new bunks, new benches. And a toilet with an extraordinary view.
I discovered it was quite a drop to the Hokitika River crossing, 600 m or so, and from the old hut site it just went over the edge, following a ridgeline, except where sidling to get to another ridge. There were a few 15 m sections that were on a 70º pitch, but plenty of hand and footholds with the roots and saplings. At times I thought I might have benefited from a short length of rope to scramble down unencumbered. At one point you scramble down a steep rockslide, many recent pack-sized lumps of rock, ie, without moss or lichen coating, with a major bluff immediately above.
I didn’t enjoy Westland walking much when I was 22 when working for the Forest Service trudging up other valleys. Maybe that’s why despite the passage of time I have never returned until now.
Later, in Poet Hut I read that the NZFS had installed two ladders and some lengths of Number 8 wire to assist with travel back in the 1970s, but DOC had long removed those.
At times I arsed it once again, at least there was usually something to cling to.
My lack of flexibility was overcome by my long reach of hand and foot.
Eventually at the bottom was a new swingbridge, well, 2009 new, over the Hokitika River once again. It was high, long and totally dynamic with the river thundering below.
I had my lunch on some huge rocks down next to the river, mesmerised by the blue water zipping past. It was sure powerful, and I was thinking that there have actually been few people who have experienced the place. I hung around for an hour or more, soaking it all up because it was unlikely that I would ever be back to the gorgeous river.
I guess many who pass through would jump a few huts here, but I wanted to take in these surroundings. It had taken so much effort to get here, to me there was little point on rushing on through.
I thought the 2 km up to the Poet Hut would be easy enough, heading up the Mungo River, but it continued the day’s sidling, this time up-and-down high above the river. There were bluffs and slips to climb over. Followed by more mossy boulder hopping with various excursions into the forest.
Sight of the day, other than the bridge, then the hut, was finding numerous very large flowering orchids, well, the light green flowers were huge.
The rivers are extraordinarily blue and beautiful.
The seventh night on by myself. Tomorrow will be in the uphill direction for Toaroha Saddle. A big morning of up. And very steep.