It’s sometimes strange to return to a place and find things are so different, in this case I have good memories of the Heaphy hut a few days ago, good conversation, friendly crew, laughter, whitebait entree for dinner, and breakfast, some venison steaks, all in all the full tasty experience.

Second time around the talk just doesn’t flow, I guess the others are just exhausted, thinking of being somewhere else. This is pure paradise, what do I care that that woman is reading a book, oblivious except a vague glance, this moment passing unnoticed.

Instead the sunset on the beach suddenly looks enticing, it’s turned into the most pleasant evening of them all, a regular cliched, sad, plop of the sun into that calm sea and a vivid orange hue merging into a darker blue, a couple of spidery clouds picking up some colour and I’m down on the beach with the type of full solitude that is experienced with the heavy onslaught of sandflies.

Even in my tent I could hear my fellow chambers thumping around in the hut at 4 30, that’s am, then they filed off on the track at pace just after my regulation listening to the 6am news, intent on point B, probably some phone connectivity somewhere else.

I have another chat to the hut warden, Dion, we’re both solitary types who enjoy conversation, happy enough in the outdoors, with the full allocation of civilisation’s greatest luxury, time, to appreciate what there is in front of us right now.

Eventually the tent is rolled up, still dampish, there’s that glorious beachside walk to the end of the track, the trail is not along the beach, hard work in the soft steeply sloping sand, instead through the nikau palm forest, this could be North Queensland, the sun is out, blue sky, and shortly afterwards it’s not, clouds, a shower, then more sun, it’s the complete West Coast experience.

At Scotts Beach I spot another seal, the largest, most itchy, beast I’ve stumbled across the whole time I watch, I’m still fascinated by these foul smelling beasts, that’s not me, surely, then two German trampers walk past, I point out the seal, big cameras are flipped out, everyone grinning, some conversation about the Heaphy, it’s not often you get up close to a large predator in the wild, still itching on its back, we are 20 m away.

It’s 40 minutes walk to the road, I don’t ask about their mode of transportation, I stop to take a few photos, the boys shoot past, I’ll catch them on the hill, but despite reasonable pace I don’t, then, trek over on this Day 9, at the car park they are nowhere to be seen, they’ve taken off in their car, Karamea another 16 km.

Welcome back to Civilisation, it’s dog eat dog out here.

← Day 8 | Back to the Heaphy campsite