It’s 8 pm before I slip into my sleeping bag, whoop, a late night, amazing how a fire can give so much entertainment and keep me up.

Bob’s Hut is sited at the edge of a river flat, not much in the way of tree cover across the tussock so you can spot it from 700 m away, although you still have to hop across the ankle deep Mt Maling Stream. Inside it’s an original standard issue eight bunk NZFS hut complete with open fire, they must have anticipated more patronage up here but really it’s right at the back of the park, it’s only an occasional shooter or the rare summer parties who are doing the Lewis Pass – St Arnaud trip.

Actually it’s only one long day over Three Tarn Pass to Ada Flat and then an easy day to the Lewis from here. I came through here at the end of my NZFS days, at that stage we were the first inhabitants for 18 months from memory, I did say it was remote. Us three were dropped at the Lewis and scurried through to St Arnaud in 6 days by my recollection, young, fit, and in a big hurry, running up and down the high mountain passes.

I’ve changed my ways, with the enormous woodpile I’m tempted to have a couple of nights here, let the battered feet recuperate some, and, why not, appreciate the magnificent location.

After tonight’s dinner I find I’ve still another seven in the pack. No great hurry particularly when in such magnificent surrounds, the mountainous backdrop here is stunning, the object of the trip was to spend some time in places like these, remote, spectacular, rather than the easily trod.

The signage at Downie was somewhat misleading, for some reason I had today down as a six hour walk, the sign indicated four. I took my time in the valley, enjoying a few pools in the Mataki before the climb to avoid a big gorge, called Pretty Bridge for obvious reasons, she sure is pretty. It’s club moss and sphagnum land, quite bizarre the various shades of green.

Rather than do the easy crossing of the Mataki immediately below the join of the East and West branches, I chose the wire walking experience instead, probably adding an hour to the trip but worth it for the thrill of hanging onto the three wire bridges, two of them, the rope wire tied to trees, me swaying wildly when attempting one handed photography. On one bridge there was my clear shadow hovering on the water, the other had an amazing rock gorge in view.

I get to cross back on one of them on my way to East Mataki Hut, my next accommodation.

Yes, a terrific day, now a fire in the open fireplace, most of those have been replaced by the less romantic fuel saving, bulletproof, stoves.

A clear night, it’s going to be a cool morning tomorrow.

+++++horizontal rule+++++

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Bobs Hut

Bobs Hut under Mt Maling, 2127m, in Nelson Lakes National Park
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