I’ve seen evidence of kiwi on the island, without actually spotting one. Footprints in the mud, and on Doughboy Beach plenty in the sand. They poke around sniffing out the sea lice in the rotting seaweed that has been washed up.

I heard them calling at many of the huts, but wasn’t sufficiently enthusiastic to bash about in the bush at night looking for them. Of course, if you are observant they make themselves apparent out on the track. It’s best in a little drizzle which helps to muffle the sounds made.

I’ve also seen plenty of deer tracks and a few hoof prints. And that deer right outside Doughboy Hut as I first strode towards it a few days ago.

My stay here has been restful. Plenty of time horizontal when it’s dark from 6 am – 8 pm, ie, close to 14 hours at that time of year. I’ve usually slithered into my sleeping bag from 7 pm — 5 30 am.

My new larger transistor radio has better reception than the old one I used for many years. Strange that here on the West Coast, Australia’s ABC stations are as clear as the New Zealand ones.

I was up early, drinking coffee and trying to eat my porridge.

Packing up has to be significantly easier when I’m almost halfway through my food, and food was the bulk of my load. I still need to stuff my sleeping bag in its bag, but once that’s done, it’s first in, and the rest seems easy.

My boots were quite dry, as were my socks. Actually, all my clothes were dry for a change.

That wouldn’t last, but while the forecast was for occasional showers, it started out quite dry and warm. Stars on show, although the almost full moon was veiled behind a thin layer of cloud.

The climb up Adams Hill wasn’t so bad. Much was in the forest along a ridge where the going underfoot was solid. The last bit in the forest, or as it turns to shrubbery needs concentration, but it’s nowhere near the swamp on the south side of Doughboy Hill.

Once out of the main scrub, the bogs are fairly consistent until the top of Adams Hill was reached. I managed that before 12 pm.

The north side was boggy but not with any depth. There were steep bits and then a lot of sidling more or less along a contour to get onto a gentle ridge, at which point it was surprisingly fast travel as the track was the easiest for the day.

Then the big sand dunes to cross, at which point it started to drizzle with the wind driving the moisture directly into my face.

The track parallel to the beach hasn’t been cut since my first trip in 2004 when it had been newly done. Plenty of windfall had to be got through this time. The big leaves of the Brachyglottis proved super greasy on the track as it wove up and down through the dunes.

I popped onto the beach and was quickly sandblasted, with the wind really having some velocity.

Eventually, around 3 30 pm, I made it to Cavalier Hunters Hut which was vacant. I decided to stay, choosing not to light the fire as I couldn’t be bothered to find replacement wood in the now quite inclement conditions.

Time for an early night and I slid into my sleeping bag to eat my delicious dehydrated dinner.

Man, it was wintry outside, but I was only going as far as Mason Bay Hut the next, two hours up the beach.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Cavalier Hunters Hut

exterior Cavalier Hunter's hut, Mason Bay, Stewart Island
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