20 minutes after I arrived at the hut last night a hunter strolled in. He had taken his tinny up Lake Rotorua to D’Urville Hut then walked in.

He had been in here a few times, and had his thoughts about where to find the deer.

In the evening he took off and while I was having a snooze shot a yearling hind, left the legs hanging in the forest for pickup on his way out, but returned with the backsteaks. He offered some to me, but I haven’t any ready way of cooking, or more importantly cleaning my solitary pot and so declined. Didn’t feel like venison tainted muesli in the mornings.

He had a few stories, not many fit for public consumption. The funniest one for me was his son had become a vegan much to his consternation, so I was able to slot in a few vegan jokes. Actually his son had shot deer near here in his youth. Now his wife didn’t eat it either, although she cooked it for her man.

To me there is something inherently wrong about being allowed to eat deep-fried potato chips, but not boiled eggs. Some would call it discipline. Others a straitjacket.

My new friend was of the type that when I had a recollection of spending a very cold night in this exact hut, he felt that gave him the right to launch into an unrelated, and irrelevant stories of his own, without any acknowledgement of the subject I had begun our conversation with.

Me: I had my coldest night ever in a hut here in July on our way to D’Urville.

Him: some random subject that had nothing to do with this east-west facing valley, open fires, frozen buckets of water, or boots, or socks.

Me: these days I guess they don’t allow a bunch of pimply 16-year-olds out into the snow, and say, “Come back after three nights.”

Him: some obscure thing a teacher said a few years ago that had nothing to do with much at all.

I just grunted like a pig every now and again to keep up the flow.

No, there wasn’t any form of conversations other than two people speaking in a disconnected way.

I at least listened, and as is usual for me in these situations just prodded him to come up with more and more fanciful stories. Most, because he seemed to lack imagination, were probably true.

But as for hunting, he was the real deal, not a poser who talks his exploits from his bunk. Anyone who can even see a deer in this forest has my admiration, even though I’m a tree hugger of grand proportions.

We both enjoyed being in the forest.

Sitting. Listening. Spending nights in a hut.

Drinking tea, him, or coffee, me.

Not so concerned about the outside world that has the ability to keep on regardless of our contributions.

So much that is out of our control dominates our lives.

Global politics. Climate change. Various injustices.

In the city you occupy your mind with keeping up-to-date, and having some concern instead of working on things within our control.

I have a touch-the-earth-lightly philosophy. Low carbon footprint.

No, it’s not selfish. It’s appreciating what you have, the place where you are live, your own physicality, your true friends.

Sometimes you can spend altogether too much time thinking about such matters.

Out here you notice that you have a body as well.

A real heart starter to begin. About 150 m straight climb, but the underlying rock is surprisingly old weathered granite that retains good traction. I wasn’t feeling particularly frisky despite enjoying a decent night’s sleep.

Now on Day 6 my limbs weren’t unexercised. They knew what to do, but also had deep-seated tiredness.

Still, I knew I had the full day to make it to the hut, and could enjoy sitting around for a bit in the forest. The track through that forest is just great. A long sidle up the creek, crossing various tributaries. Not much traffic to rip the track up, but sufficient over the years to show the way clearly, and better marked than the national park tracks.

Eventually I made it to the tussock that is not as easy to traverse. From Mole Saddle I gained a decent view over Mt Misery, with Mt Hopeless behind, and all the way around to the Red Hills, and even a distant Mt Owen.

It’s quite a vantage point.

The section down from the saddle to the hut is less inspiring, with swampy bits, and tussock disguising holes and bogs.

My main issue is two days of rain coming up. Maybe starting tomorrow. I know that the Nardoo Hut track has more than a dozen creek crossings, and then I need to cross the Matakitaki River up above Burn Creek. And it’s a big, sometimes fearsome river.

I know I would be unable to get to Nardoo tomorrow, since it’s marked as seven hours down at the river, and need to camp on the flats along the way. I have no problem camping in decent weather, but I’m not too keen on crossing flooded rivers.


I hope to pick up the long-term mountain weather forecast early tomorrow morning.

The alternative is just to cut out these two huts, and make my way directly to Downie Hut.

On my lonesome again, although a couple had left after two nights just this morning.

This four bunk hut can cope with three people, I guess, but any more would be a squeeze.

An early night to rest my body.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Mole Hut

Mole Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park
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