Up and away by 7 am.

While eating breakfast, I read in the hut book about how well the track was marked to Kākāpo Hut, and how it only had taken 6½ hours for the last visitors.

I had 11 hours of daylight. I should be able to get there.

Once I’d made it up 20 minutes along the track to where the track starts behind where the old hut used to be at Drain Creek, the track turned out to be very well marked, mostly. It followed the old New Zealand Forest Service route, mostly, and I could see where to go from the trail on the ground, mostly.

The route description on remotehuts.co.nz divides the day into three equal two-hour sections.

The first is up to Lawrence Saddle, climbing about 300 m for the first half on an easy gradient, then sidling around to the saddle. I was there reasonably early and progressing well.

The middle section drops to the Bellbird Stream, time for an early lunch. The track climbed slowly at first, and then steeply to an unnamed saddle. It must’ve been pretty easy walking as I wasn’t far from the two hours, if you didn’t count my lunch stop at the water’s edge.

At the unnamed saddle, the time still had a 1 in front of it, but it wasn’t that far from 2 pm. That gave me four hours of light to go.

But then the fun part started, dropping down steeply for 60 m on chunky scree, then climbing back up, also steeply to get over a ridge. For a while much was on a New Zealand Forest Service route that was partially benched, but then it turned into a slow sidle that tended to go on and on. I had been anticipating a quick drop to the river and the DOC trapline, but it avoided that for a while. Eventually, I reached the trapline, which was clearly marked, and I was just 2 km from the hut.

But a decision was made. I was carrying my tent and might as well use it.

I was planning on a full rest day at the hut, but I suddenly preferred a lovely campsite immediately above the rushing water of the Kākāpo River and a short walk in the morning.

Man, that water was noisy.

Might have overachieved there.

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