The weather forecast was okay for the morning and early afternoon, so I was keen to leave early. I might need to take a few breaks for my shoulders along the way.
It’s reasonably flat with only some short bumps to get up as the track parallels Patterson Inlet/Whaka a Te Wera. It’s all on the Rakiura Great Walk track so generally well-maintained. Some historic features are along the way, mostly relating to the sawmilling back more than 100 years ago, but I visited all of them on previous visits, and was more interested this time in getting the heavy load off my shoulders.
As I walked up the gravel road to the car park at the start of the track I noted two women following some distance behind. If no one was in North Arm Hut, they might be the last humans I saw for a while.
Nope. A dog walker drove past and departed from the car park in a hurry, with some excited dogs.
I surprised myself with my reasonable progress. My pack wasn’t feeling ridiculously heavy, at least on this first day. My shoulders may disagree tomorrow.
One good thing about this time of the year, is there is absolutely no need to take a tent or sleeping mat. That saves a bit of weight, as does taking jandals as my secondary footwear. One walking pole only, which I tend to use more as a walking stick in the sometimes boggy or slippery areas.
As time went by, I started having little stops to rest from that load of 21 days of food supply.
Lunch at Sawdust Bay, although that sounds somewhat grandiose for the muesli bar and apple I had in my pocket.
One break not long after that I spotted three red-crowned parakeets, kakariki, which are fairly rare in other parts of the country. That led to a number of long breaks to spot more, so it was around 3 pm by the time I made it to the hut.
I was the first to stay at North Arm for a week. Not many down south at this time of the year, unlike last year when there were about 13 residents for my first night in Port William Hut. Most were walking the Rakiura Track, but four of us were off around the North west Circuit. No Covid last year, although we were into a sudden Level 4 lockdown while I was at Yankee River Hut, and I ended up on National Radio described as the Last Tramper in New Zealand.
Shortly after arriving, the wind got up and with a few passing showers the temperature was feeling much lower. Time to light the fire.
Heavy rain was predicted, and the wind was up at sunset, rocking the hut.
First night out, in a hut on the Rakiura Track. It looked like I was on my own.