I was aiming for Stag Flat but the shelter has taken a dive since I stayed there in late May 2013, the interior was mouldy and it was basically rather malodorous.

It’s a short stroll down the hill to Taipo so here I am.

Last time around Taipo had a gloomy cold feel, today it is basking in sunlight and otherwise vacant. I’m glad I made it. The official time from Belltown-Manunui to here is 6.5 hours and 10.2 km but I snuck in just before 6 pm.

The extensive windfalls from the April 2014 storm, Cyclone Ita, weren’t so bad, but the track through the forest does have some more open bits that I don’t recall. The climb to Little Wanganui Saddle was entirely gradual with the exception of the last 100 m up to the first lake. By the time I was up there the blue sky had been replaced by cloud/mist, but with a fair tailwind to shunt me over the last incline.

I enjoyed the mountain cabbage trees on the West Coast side, and some big loopy dracophyllum once I was over the top into Nelson.

The highlight was a flyby of a whio/blue duck, they are surprisingly fast fliers.

Feeling pretty tired despite my day off yesterday. I guess I do still have seven or so day’s food aboard, and there was over 1150 m of climbing to get over the saddle so at least I have an excuse.

Maybe an early night for once, I’m off to Trevor Carter via Helicopter Flat tomorrow.

Man, this is a totally pragmatic entry so far today, just dealing with the facts.

Later I take out the map of the Karamea Valley and spend some time taking in the contours in the shape of the valleys around. There is no particular order other than the vast loop of the Karamea. Various tributaries, like the Crow, snake around. The Garibaldi Range is flattish on top but is protected by severe bluffs, 200 to 300 m in places. There’s the abrupt peak of an unknown point, other than Point 1746, that’s metres in elevation in the Kendall Range just at the back of Thor Hut. Mount Patriarch is another bluffy knob, 500 m above the tree line, measuring 1701 m.

There’s a few huts on the Wangapeka yet to explore, they are already on my itinerary for later in the summer when I’m planning to walk the Matiri Range ridgetop, etc, from Wangapeka Saddle due south to Lake Matiri and popping out near Murchison.

But for the next few days it is as easy walking as you get, strolling down the widish Karamea River valley, no big climbs, or even moderate ones.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Taipo Hut

Taipo Hut, Kahurangi National Park
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