Rain lashed Cavalier Hunters Hut at times last night, but in the morning it was calmer and the clouds were high. Totally different from yesterday when it was totally miserable on the beach with plenty of sand blowing around, along with the horizontal rain.

It was strange to see two rats frolicking in the conditions, chasing each other around in front of the hut.

Less of a surprise to see a football-sized kiwi wander past the big sliding door in the early morning gloom.

It was about another two hours along the beach, and in the morning the tide was low rather than right up the beach like yesterday. Justification for curtailing further energy expenditure and staying, if I needed any.

I saw new human footprints heading north over Duck Creek, and when I got to the hut saw someone else’s name from the previous night who was on the Northwest Circuit.

Before I left the beach at Duck Creek, I picked up as much driftwood as I could manage. Just as well, as little was in the woodshed, and the hut seemed cold.

Never warmed to Mason Bay Hut, however. Usually bereft of firewood, and it’s a long way from the beach to get a load.

Being a nice day, and arriving early, I washed the windows, after a fashion, so I could at least see out.

Then went and collected some dead standing manuka to supplement the driftwood, plenty around near the hut, just nothing at the hut to cut it up with. That’s why I carry my folding saw. It sliced up everything in 20 minutes and that was sufficient to warm me and the living room up. Dragged a mattress in there to make the most of the heat.

Later a hunter staying at the Homestead Hunters Hut popped in while doing the first round of rat traps for the season. He picked up 14 rats from 16 traps, so there were plenty around. I agreed, having seen them at most of the huts I’d stayed at. I’d only missed at North Arm, but I was sure they were around there as well.

The revelation of this trip is my new transistor radio. Much better reception, even during the day. The hunter was my first encounter with a real human in nine days, but the radio makes do on those long evenings and early mornings.

A big day tomorrow, maybe.

I thought another early night was in order, with a planned pre-8 am start.

At least the tide would now be in my favour to get around that minor headland at the north end of Mason Bay Beach.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Mason Bay Hut

Mason Bay Hut, North-west Circuit, Stewart Island
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