Walking great distances on four-wheel-drive tracks on flat river valleys is generally considered a poor way for trampers to spend time. No challenge. Just putting one foot in front of the other. Grinding it out.

Well, that was much of the day.

Last night when I arrived at the hut, a fisherman had also just arrived. He was on his sixth trip to New Zealand, having come from Switzerland for the activity. As is often the case, we spent a number of hours philosophising about life, love, careers, fish, and strenuous activity in the New Zealand hills. He turned out to be a surprisingly like-minded soul, with what might have been termed an obsession to catch beautiful fish. The hot weather and low state of the rivers was meaning the trout were an early morning only proposition. When the environment heated up they became sluggish, and preferred hanging out in the bottom of the deeper pools.

These are the things you learn.

He had ventured with his rod into the Karamea and Crow Rivers, being dropped off from a helicopter at Roaring Lion Hut.

New Zealand as an international fishing destination is the real thing, I found, meeting four new fishermen walking into Montgomerie Hut as I was trudging out. And a guy getting ready to ride his horse up to the hut.

So, a day quite different from up at Nelson Lakes.

Once down at the bridge it was a quick up and over to get back to the car park. Well, not that quick as I became delayed by a shy local and his snarling six-month-old puppy. We chatted about gold and coal mines, and other tourists.

And that’s how this much tamer tramp came to its conclusion. 40 km of walking in three days, including a 900 m climb. Lots of gold mining equipment. One stoat. One trout seen. Not much other wildlife, although robins were thick on the ground.

I realise there’s something to be said for walking on a great formed track, that has a mostly reasonable gradient.

No undergrowth bashing, or wet feet required.

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