220 houses in Nelson evacuated. Man, that could well be mine.

The rain up there was predicted to continue for the following three days.

Clearly, my enthusiasm for further tramping was waning.

Except for returning back over the hill and around Patterson Inlet/Whaka a Te Wera as the day’s exercise. At least walking out from North Arm Hut would be a stroll. Maybe it was time for an early start.

I was up at 5 30 am with two hours until first light, but I’d installed new batteries in my two headlamps so thought I might leave in the dark. The low tide at Mason Bay was around 11 am, it would certainly be somewhat earlier in Patterson Inlet/Whaka a Te Wera. I was keen on following the low beach walk around the coast once I got over the ridge.

Oh, more accurate to describe it as a mudflat bash.

I managed to leave around 7 30 am with my headlight required for only a short while. Overcast, nothing at all like yesterday’s perfection. What a difference a day made.

First up, a 360 m climb, with a short stretch of muck-on-a-slope on the south side of the saddle.

I was up the top of the ridge around 10 30 am, but spent half an hour communicating with friends about the Nelson situation, having reasonable reception with line-of-sight to Oban. Except not today, I was in thick cloud with limited visibility.

It was after 12 pm when I hit Patterson Inlet/Whaka a Te Wera. The tide was way out, and that meant it was probably going to be coming in soon enough. As it turned out, I made it about halfway around the coast on my mudbash and footwash before it seemed more sensible to strike up and get on the track.

Plenty of blue mussels around, so I picked up a few for a feed before leaving the shore. A good feed, as I hadn’t yet had lunch due to my haste.

Getting up the steep sandy and slippery bank with the additional weight in my pack was an effort, dragging myself under and around some Brachyglottis with those slippery leaves and fragile branches. It wasn’t far at all, 20 m vertical gain but at a 35º slope, so I had a little break after I crawled onto the track.

Just an hour on the better part of the track between North Arm and Freshwater, with few of the roots that characterise the rest, and some delightful groves of mature rimu and rata.

North Arm Hut was again bereft of company so it didn’t prove a problem about steaming my mussels and enjoying a tasty change in diet.

However, around 5 pm a party of five young Americans arrived and proved good company. They were off to Port William, so rather than continuing on to complete a circuit of the Rakiura Track, as I had briefly considered when on my lonesome, I thought I’d head directly towards Oban.

Drizzle set in, but I had the fire going by that stage so cosy indeed.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: North Arm Hut

North Arm Hut, Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island
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