I was thinking of the three requirements for a decent campsite. Flat, not lumpy and with flowing water nearby.

Finding clean water is often not an issue in the South Island, where there are numerous clear-running streams.

Finding a site large enough to lay your tent out can be more challenging.

A place relatively horizontal, with no chunky rocks, or clumpy vegetative matter.

I guess shelter is a fourth aspect that would also be useful. Out of the wind to some degree.

On this occasion, I hadn’t sorted the shelter aspect, at least as the tent went up, but after the sun went down behind the ridge, it calmed down completely.


Another splendid night’s sleep. Nothing like some exertion during the day to induce a comatose state while horizontal.

The morning dawned with a few clouds that looked like they would burn off.

I discouraged clouds of sandflies with some Bushman, the only insect repellent that actually works, even if it gives you immediate cancer.

I was away early down to Yards Hut. Not far, only about an hour.

I finally crossed the river on a gravel base, well, round fist-sized stones, and while not flowing swiftly, I was up to my knees, so my feet were wet again. I knew there were more crossings in the day, so I just got in early.

At Yards Hut, I thought it worthwhile to detour to both Bottom and Top Chimney Huts, about 4 km each way.

Interesting to find the Bottom Hut was now under the shelter of some pines that had been planted close together without regard to the mature tree size. Top Hut had a big accommodation wing accreted onto the original corrugated steel hut from 1912. All were in good condition, although having a bath immediately in the entrance hall was a first.

After that, it was a slow plod down the valley in the heat.

I crossed the river to look at Harrisons Hut, an old musterers’ hut adjacent to another post-1945 hut.

Time for lunch not far from the three Forks Huts. The oldest was built from stone, the second all corrugated steel, and the last new Coloursteel construction.

A timber bridge had been built over Clear Stream nearby for sheep initially. I’d noticed an old sheep bridge in disrepair over the Otematata River earlier in the day.

When turning and looking upstream, the saddle I had come over the day before was still in view, highlighted by the slash that was the track down. By this stage, I was losing enthusiasm for trudging further, so I stopped at the base of the climb that could take place the following morning.

I camped behind Skunk Hut, which lived up to its name, as someone had dumped a deer carcass 150 m from the hut. Fortunately, the wind was blowing the smell away from the hut.

Two big days plodding on, but my days of excessive exercise went back to my day climbing to Big Hut, now seven days before.

I felt the need for a day off soon, but that’s probably a couple of days away at Otamatapaio DOC Hut.

The food supply would be okay if I divvied up my porridge.

6 30 pm, and I was already looking at sliding into my sleeping bag.

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