Every now and again you have one of those special days. I seem to be stringing together a few at the moment.

I knew I had to climb from the river up to the tops but the distance wasn’t so great. So no major hurry.

My campsite was quite comfortable and I slept in until after 7 am which doesn’t happen often. Before long the sun was up, well, directly shining and while cool it wasn’t cold.

I lay back drinking my coffee and watching the parakeets, fewer than last evening but shortly after they left I could see a black bird, bigger than the parakeets jumping and gliding between the branches.


I’ve been in search of the fabled kokako, no confirmed sightings since 1986, presumed extinct.

That bird was the right size, right flight patterns, kokako are poor flyers, right tail.

But no, fame eluded me on this occasion, it was a kaka in silhouette, then a pair. I enjoyed watching them for a while, then they found there were other places they were meant to be.

Same with me, it was getting close to 10, time to strap that pack on and confront the hill.

I had a minor cross-country but managed to find some cairns at the bottom of the ridge, it helped that someone had left some blue plastic tape in the pepper wood. Then I managed to keep pretty much on the trail the whole way to the hut. There were cairns again, a few in places, guesswork in other spots, keep on trudging up, but it all seemed easy enough to follow. Just keep to the ridge, often a good policy in the mountains, those creeks tend to get gorged out.

Man, it was steep in places. I dragged myself up on the shrubbery, my walking pole not much use but eventually, long after lunch, I went through the large dracophyllum layer and finally burst out on an open ridge which was relatively easy walking.

Views everywhere. Down the Anatoki. Up the Anatoki where I had come yesterday. I could sort of make out my path, a ridge was in the way. Mt Anatoki looked gnarly, there was Yuletide Peak directly across the Anatoki River, and up where I was heading, the Drunken Sailors.

Yeah, I spent a fair amount of time just sitting and contemplating.

Then I got a ping of a phone message, I had thought I might get something on the exposed ridge, I was above 1300 m. That meant I sent a few Christmas text messages as is the way these days.

The sidle under the Drunken Sailors was intense, I met quite a few spiky aciphyllas, speargrass but eventually it was up to the saddle and down to an empty hut. One person has stayed in the last month, Flo. Not as much use as I had thought.

I’ll be spending tomorrow here as well, on this slowest of expeditions, now seven days since I left Takaka.

Yeah, better have tomorrow off.

Christmas Day.

+++++horizontal rule+++++

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Lonely Lake Hut

Lonely Lake and Drunken Sailors, with the hut in the small clearing on the lower right. |  Lonely Lake Hut, Kahurangi National Park
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