Once again heavy rain came down in the early morning, but it also cleared by the time the sun came up.

It was obvious before daylight that common sense should prevail. Head for home, despite my body feeling just fine.

Only having a half-day walk, I hung around early on, doing a bit of reading. The sky completely cleared up with just a few puffy clouds. Then a Normandy Highlander came in at low level and left quarter of an hour later. That looked like a Kiwi hunters flight from Invercargill. Then five minutes later a much smaller Piper came skimming over the treetops. 20 minutes later six trampers topped in. They were spending the night and heading to Doughboy Hut tomorrow.

I gave them some advice: the DOC stated times were an absolute minimum, and they would be advised to leave at first light, as there were just 10 hours of available light in a day. I guess you could walk to and along the beach with limited visibility to extend your day.

A couple was coughing and sneezing, I’m outta there. I finished the last of my packing in a hurry and headed off up to the Homestead.

I’d noted a thermometer on the wall, in the shade of the Homestead porch and it had read 17° C, so it was a fine old day.

Then thought I would drop into the Homestead Hunters Hut. Two guys had just finished digging a new toilet pit in the sand, 2 m deep. The previous one had lasted 14 years since the hut was built.

A cup of coffee was offered and I found myself having a chat for an hour. One was John Delury who is the chairman of the Rakiura Hunters Trust and someone I’ve had correspondence with about the Rakiura hunters’ huts. He had been one of the six volunteers who had built that hut back in 2008. I introduced myself and we were both pleased to actually meet.

12 30 pm I thought I’d better get moving. Freshwater Hut was about four hours away. I peeled off my raincoat, added visibility not required now I knew hunters weren’t in the vicinity, and strode off.

The track was fairly dry, nothing like previous traverses, such as last year with the water level way high, or back in 2003 when it was right up my thighs.

Today I powered across, helped by the absence of 12 nights’ food, on the firm track. A great afternoon walking almost summer-like conditions.

Freshwater Hut was vacant. Just one tramper through since I’d stayed 11 nights previously.

I listened to the news. Nelson, where I live was hit by a huge weather bomb, and 200 homes had been evacuated. I thought my place could possibly be affected, but not much I could do from this location, other than being concerned.

Freshwater is a much better hut when the fire is going, and there is plenty of manuka, dead standing timber, around. And unlike Mason Bay Hut, a collection of about seven saws in various stages of bluntness and accumulated rust. One I found was ultra sharp and made immediate progress through the manuka I had harvested. I gathered a few, like five, dead trees with the thickness of my upper arm, and added much of the wood in long lengths to the woodshed. And carried an armful inside for my own use.

A raging fire in the woodburner made sleeping conditions on a chilly night more bearable.

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A guide to the night’s accommodation: Freshwater Hut

Freshwater Hut, Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island
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