So, exactly 3 years since I arrived back in New Zealand after a long absence.
Actually it was about 2 am that I went through the Auckland Customs, whisked through despite my tent, bike, and camping equipment that usually undergo significant scrutiny.
A huge Maori guy noticed that I had ticked the Permanent Resident box, smiled and said: Welcome home.
I’ve eked my savings out, a few day’s work here and there, and managed to put together a fairly substantial website for tramping in that time, 700 pages and 25,000 hits for January, I can say it’s getting there.
But somehow I’m just about over it all, sitting here this morning there is clearly loss of zing. I am planning on Stone Hut tonight, just 2.5 hours away,
I’m going to spend some time trying to observe some the whio/blue ducks which of been absent from the ornithological findings so far this trip.
As it turned out I did finally see a solitary male duck, he whistled, I stopped and spotted him two tootling down the rapids.
The track is great, although not cut like yesterday. Much of the way was 20 or 30 m above the river which is sometimes just a narrow gorge. With the hills to the north there was shade for most of the morning, the clouds had cleared away.
Finally I had some conversation with two trampers who had dropped in very briefly the night before and stayed at the old Cecil Kings Hut five minutes away.
I chatted to the two and heard two almost believable stories, secondhand, about a hunter, A, hearing a moa scream and, B, getting swooped by a Haast eagle in the early 1950s.
I learned there were nine species of moa, the males were significantly smaller and roosted the egg.
A trail runner came through and later we had a chat about the regenerating bush. He confirmed my own thoughts and said that there is now considerably more vegetation on the forest floor that his hunting days in the early 1980s.
No solitude tonight, unlike the previous four, a family of three turned up from the roadend, one teenage son.
Looks like I’ll catch up on my week of conversation in one evening.