I had been asleep for over an hour last night and slowly voices, lights, and various noises woke me up as a father and his 12-year-old son arrived. They had come all the way down the valley after camping almost at the top hut, Erceg Hut. A big day.

They had been delayed, because almost in the pitch black the son had spotted a deer ahead, and had shot it. They hid it, and were going back this morning to pick it up in their four-wheel-drive. Once they had dinner, we talked for a few hours, mostly about hunting in the area, various huts and tracks, and then proceeded onto equipment where we found we both had a liking for long trips. His longest was six weeks in the Landsborough River, which is the next valley to the west and accessible from the Huxley, although he was flown in with two others.

These days he was only interested in shooting trophy heads, ie, had to be at least 300 points on the Douglas system, or about 1200 mm high and wide. We spoke about the difficulties of accessing DOC land in the area, and came to the conclusion it wasn’t worth going up the Dobson River as the landholder rationed access. It is possible to go up the river legally, but I still needed to cross 100 m or so of private property at the top which might land me in trouble if I was sprung.

In comparison, the Hopkins River had a legal road as far as the DOC boundary, so hasn’t any issue. In fact, you can take a vehicle up as far as Dodger Hut.

It didn’t rain in the night, but this morning it was seriously clouded in, right down to the valley floor.

More conversation, and it was 10 am before I finally left.

With the threat of rain, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to cross the river, but that’s what I did. Set sail for Red Hut. Wet feet finally, almost immediately on leaving, but it was super easy to cross the numerous braids. In fact, it took less than an hour and a half to make it to Red Hut, but I felt I should stay in such a historic hut, being more than 100 years old.

Next on my itinerary was going to be Dasler Bivvy on the way to Elcho Hut, and I wanted to climb the 400 m up there, but felt after my previous three days I might as well take it easy today. Also, I couldn’t see much of the extraordinary mountains and it was supposed to be clearing up.

The hut was cold and I was wet, so I ended up collecting wood and lighting the fire.

As the afternoon progressed the clouds broke up and the wind switched from calm, or the nor’west from yesterday, to more southerly. When it finally came around to a direct westerly, the peaks went on show. Maybe the rain avoided the area.

Tomorrow I’ll take on the Dasler Bivvy climb and sleep at Elcho Hut.

Right on 6 pm, another father/son combo arrived, this time older, and that provided a different style of conversation than the previous night with the pair of hunters. Being Auckland-based they had a different appreciation of their surroundings. Mueller Hut tonight, Queenstown tomorrow, back home the next morning.

Nice to be in a warm hut, with all my clothes dried out, but we all retired early to bed.

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A guide to the night’s accommodation: Red Hut

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