Okay, so I’ve never stayed five nights in one hut previously, but my excuse is that I have been on the move for more than a month, with only a few rest days along the way: Howden and Poulter Huts in Arthurs Pass National Park; three nights in Christchurch to get supplies; and at Te Anau before and after the Kepler.

Despite this hut being quite different than I had imagined, ie, not so many people around in the vicinity, there are currently almost 20 whitebaiters in occupation, two aeroplanes tied down in the shrubbery, various quad bikes in operation, it’s been great to stay here.

Ozzy Bob, a well-known local, has been coming here since 1983 he tells me when he dropped in for a cup of coffee. I quiz him on most things, I’m quite the journalist with the interrogation. Of particular interest is the nature of the track down the coast, he thinks it is flat and knows that the three bulldozers made their way along the coast from Jackson’s Bay in the late 1960s, two with blades, the third pulling some lodgings on skids. [Actually it was 1973 I learn later.] He tells me a lot about various historic whitebaiters, the difficulties of flying the catch out, the history of this particular hut, which used to be mostly a locked DOC hut with a slim corridor with four bunks for the trampers, diving for crays, doesn’t do it so much these days, kina taking over from mussels in the bay. It’s somewhat imprecise and disjointed but the main thing is we like talking to each other, we both like a chat.

It’s incredibly windy, snow to about 200 m early on, the temperature dropped considerably but late in the day I decide to have a look at McKenzie Creek with the bag clashed optimistically for mussels, ie, back down the 5km to the south end of the beach again. No sandblasting because there’s limited sand on the gravel beach but man, it’s plenty strong. The waves surge at the beach now and again, dangerously, the sea has no green tinge today, it’s entirely white foam.

But the rain has stopped.

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