Despite having set my alarm for an early start at 4 50 am, to give myself enough time to listen to the latest weather forecast, I woke an hour earlier to take in the better 4 am mountain forecast.

A high-pressure ridge across the South Island indicated it would be fine, but when I opened the door I was in thick fog, meaning the unpainted door of the toilet was helpful in establishing bearings in that direction.

It was still pitch black outside, of course.

I soaked my porridge to see whether that made any difference in its palatability and ease of eating.


The coffee was as good as ever, fortunately.

My new boots (and old socks) were primarily dry and working out well. A lightweight version of the heavy boots I used in the rough and rocky Marlborough streams, where I constantly waded up streams. Central Otago doesn’t need such heavy-duty boots.

I guess that your average thru-hikers would still regard them as clunky, but they certainly suited carrying my heavy pack.

Yeah, it was a big day, with a major change in view along the way.

I started in dense fog/cloud on the zigzag track, which vehicles have not used for many years. Damp underfoot, and my new “waterproof” boots proved not so waterproof. A steady pace had me out of the fog half an hour before I reached the top of the 900 m incline around 11 am. The Maniototo side was cloud-free, with great views on offer.

A lunch stop meant the view could be appreciated, but it was important to keep moving.

The afternoon and evening were spent making haste on a variable track underfoot, rocky to gravel to hard clay, with a lot more additional climbing involved than I anticipated, the last effort of which was right at the end of the day when I misread the map and had a final 100 m incline to climb up.

No one was residing at the dirt-floored hut when I staggered in just before 9 pm.

My longest day’s tramping in recorded history.

An uncooked dinner, then straight to bed.

Frankly, I could hardly move.

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