Another calm night, this time in the shelter of a spreading tree. During my time horizontal, I was accompanied by sandflies and a couple of let’s-have-a-party possums.

Today was the halfway point of my trip where I reached the apogee, or is it the perihelion, of my revolution of the park.

A 300 m climb greeted me first up, with a few sheep exercised, preferring running up the road than ducking either side to avoid me.

At the top of the pass, I found I had an Internet connection and was able to communicate with family and friends. That delayed progress, and seeing a four-wheel drive on the farm road a few kilometres away discouraged movement for a while, well, until I realised it was a beekeeper checking hives rather than a potentially angry farmer.

So, instead of walking down the road to get to the start of the easement along the Otamatapaio River, I saw both on the map yesterday and from on high today that I could do a cross-country in a more direct line to avoid more than an hour of walking. I searched out a line with limited wild roses, with Mount Horrible as the direction to bear. That proved eminently sensible. I even had lunch at Corbies Creek at the appropriate time.

The Otamatapaio Valley was better walking than the one I had just come down, the Otematata, because it is narrower and has much less traffic.

It would be easy enough to walk up on a grassy four-wheel drive track for the remainder of the afternoon, but when I reached Blue Hut with its decent mattress and comfortable chair, I decided to cease motion for the day.

I had been contemplating pushing on to the DOC hut and having a valid rest day, but instead, I laid out all of my food and realised I had another seven or eight days on board.

And I’ve notified people I was staying longer—no hurry required.

Animal surprises! Two groups of pheasants, one group of eight, the other eight, with their rapid and noisy wing flurry fury close at hand. A young cat with a dead rat in its mouth for its late breakfast.

Suddenly it seemed like summer.

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