“It’s not so special,” the Israeli guy says. “In my country we have no nature at all, and we have rivers better than this.”

I’d like to point out that the Iris Burn drops down between two pristine mountain ranges, the nearest road is 20 or 30 km away, up beyond the waterfall we have just been appreciating there are no tracks, it is a valley where visitors are few.

Man, there is just so much to respond to. Ain’t so many missiles released here.

I, of course, say nothing, let it slide.

I’m pleased I’m going against the flow of the walkers, I meet all nine who stayed at Iris Burn last night, and three, earlier on, from Moturau. Rather than staying in close companionship with other trampers for two or three nights, when you go against the flow it’s just the one. But you do get to meet everyone walking the track, even if it is only a brief encounter in the forest. Many are just scuttling through as quick as they can, not much interest in sitting and contemplating the immediate environment.

Last night I had a bizarre experience, at least for New Zealand in mid spring, sharing the hut with hundreds of mosquitoes. I whipped out my Bushman insect repellent, the only sure cure for insect pests, the problem is it dissolves your skin, maybe it gives you cancer instantly but it sure deals with its target audience. That, combined with well timed blows and more importantly a candle burning on the other side of the hut seemed to deal with the situation effectively. Emptying the plastic bucket, quarter filled with yellow, stagnant water I found immediately outside the hut, that might stop the breeding cycle for a while and give future residents some respite.

The day was a slow march up the Iris Burn valley, through outstanding silver beech forest, a crown fern understory common, a rich green palette for the day.

I didn’t bother getting away before nine, taking plenty of breaks, one of which was bought on by hearing and then spotting a yellow crowned parakeet, kākāriki, appearing from nowhere and sitting around, letting me capture its image satisfactorily. They are relatively abundant in NZ forests unlike the other species that they can be confused with, the orange fronted parakeet, of which there are only about 300 individuals remaining. Later I added images of a wood pigeon after seeing them crash around the canopy.

When I arrived at the hut there were seven others in residence, all heading the other way along the track tomorrow, ie, from whence I came.

Most walk up to the waterfall and I chat to a Dutch woman who says her friends can’t understand her complete lack of interest in computer screens, social media and shopping, she is motivated by international travel and experience, not mediated, secondhand experience. We are nodding in furious agreement.

A lovely bunch of people, six countries represented, everyone polite, appreciative and thoughtful. Maybe with a solitary exception.

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