This new Mid Caples Hut, opened in February this year and replacing an earlier edition, is typical of a new breed of DOC hut — well sited, great aspect, in this case to the sun and coincidentally to the mountains, big double glazed windows, heavy insulation, etc.

The hut’s solitary occupant is a woman from the western islands in Scotland who had crewed on a few yachts from the Caribbean to get to New Zealand about two years later, now just about over travelling, she was having a look around the South Island and just finished the Routeburn.

So here was I mulling over the prospect of sharing another hut with zombie foreigners and instead we had a most chatty evening about the meaning of life, both of us rather unimpressed by the rush of modern life, the poverty of a screen relationships and both wanting a more simple existence.

Yup, that’s me.

Earlier on I investigated the Slip Flat Hut, a three bunker with an open fireplace, a door that didn’t reach nipple height, a set of shelves someone had installed complete with the jars for salt, sugar, teabags and various seasonings. Also plenty of firewood, at least four mouse traps, a rainwater tank, ie, the complete hut experience in old style, but minified form. Interestingly there’s no signage on the track marking the hut and it’s not mentioned in the general information sheets about the Greenstone Track, you really have to search around for it, those with trail finding skills will notice a faint track leading off to something, and that thing is indeed the hut.

After that I took a long cut around the Lake Rere circuit so I could catch a view of an iridescent blue Lake Wakatipu, the range on the other side, and the solid bulk of Mount Earnslaw, 2830 m, looking imposing up beyond the head of the lake.

The bottom of the Caples Track is through good red beech forest, it’s gorgey and gorgeous, the river, still actually the Greenstone down there, a vivid green colour, on closer inspection, absolutely clear.

Once again there was a major chasm immediately prior to the Caples Hut, also close to being jumpable, one of those physical experiences that doesn’t seem, at least by these non-professional hands, to be captured photographic with any significant degree of representation, the thundering audible component absent for a start, but the depth of the crevice and the power of the torrent not readily apparent from my efforts of digital capture, the tonal range too much for my little point and shoot.

Looks like memories might be the way to go.

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