A dark and stormy night. The wind was shaking the 12 bunk hut big time.

Not sure why DOC installed such a large hut at this point but they must’ve been expecting a few more trampers, or mountain bikers coming through. There were maybe 20 entries since I was here a year ago, not all staying.

There was a major surprise therefore when after dark a couple of four-wheel drives arrived with five hunters intent on Palmer Hut, still 30 km away. Sensibly they decided to bunker down for the night.

Surprisingly the five blokes they were quite subdued, and a quiet night was had. Well, other than the rattling and shaking of the hut and the gusty winds.

The morning still looked ugly but I was in no mood for sitting around for another day.

I was offered a more substantial breakfast and thinking of the climb awaiting enthusiastically agreed. Thanks guys.

Eventually it was time to venture forth. Still early.

Nothing like misty drizzle rushing past at a tremendous rate to encourage movement. I stopped in at Tent Poles Hut to shelter from more vigorous precipitation, and then cooling quickly, continued with my upwards trudge.

Having two river crossings at the start of the day had left my feet fully drenched.

The wind at the top of Blind Saddle was significant. No shortage of oxygen up there. Almost white out conditions.

On the way down my hands were so cold I found it impossible to undo the clips on my pack. Man, it was cold with the windchill.

Things improved in the downwards direction.

I moved out of the clouds. The Kaikoura Peninsula was visible.

Connectivity meant I could search for accommodation in Kaikoura. Negative.

Try Hanmer. Success.

I’m hitching that way.

No sign of activity on the road way down there. No sound as I approached closer.

I was coming out on the Inland Road, a shortcut between Kaikoura and Hanmer.

I reach the road near the bridge over the Kahutara River, and a car immediately went past, ignoring my extended thumb. I kinda was taken by surprise there.

How long before the next car on this deserted road?.

I changed my clothes, looking slightly more reputable, but coming from a low base.

Clean-shaven however, but my boots were still sodden.

I suspected I smelt like a wet dog.

Third car past, ie, within five minutes, picked me up in a grand new rental car, a major Toyota Highlander, with the nicest visitors to New Zealand, who took me right to the front door of my Hanmer accommodations.


What a change from fording my over knee deep streams earlier in the day.

A long hot shower finally warmed me up.

After 18 days I sensed I could usefully work out what to do with a couple of days off in civilisation. Like replenishing my suppliers before I crank up this little adventure once again.

Or just hang out with the benefits civilisation has to offer.

← Day 17 | Warden Hut