The hut was damp when I arrived the previous night, but fortunately with sufficient fading light to unpack. A check of the firewood situation suggested I got horizontal as soon as possible.

Man, it had been a ten-hour day, with little sitting around en route.

The dampness meant my sleep was cool, and that was unusual given the standard warmth of my winter-strength sleeping bag.

In the morning frost encouraged some enthusiasm in providing heat to my surroundings. Considerable vegetation had been chopped back from around the hut fairly recently, to give the otherwise gloomy interior additional light, and I noted the still green leaves on the discarded branches. A new woodshed had been built and it was filled to the ceiling. Great, except the wood was totally green and kamahi that needed the fire going strongly to start to dry the larger pieces out. But at least the wood had been chainsawed up in short lengths suitable for popping in the tiny Yukon woodburner once split.

Chopping it up with the axe was easy, and made the burning process proceed.

Later, on a walk along the beach I found some silver beech saplings washed ashore that were sufficiently dried to burn well. They had obviously been carried from the South Island as Rakiura does not have beech trees.

Didn’t take long for the heat to remove most of the moisture-laden air, and make the hut feel more homely.

Not as great a day weather-wise as yesterday, with a thick cloud cover arriving from the west, but I was intent on doing not much and allowing my aching body to recover from yesterday’s efforts.

I contemplated a shave but postponed it until the following day. My intention was always to have three nights in residence, and now that made enormous sense. After all, this was one of my favourite DOC huts.

The highlight of the day, other than walking on the splendid beach and admiring the orange pīngao sedge was spotting a tiny seal pup, species not clearly discernible, nestled in the grass not far from the high tide mark. It couldn’t be more than a few days old, and had been left while its mother was offshore feeding. Apparently, they swim major distances out to sea, like 200 km, then dive 200 m deep to find dinner.

I quickly retreated to avoid getting in its way to the water.

That’s a bonus for spending the day just mucking around this splendid place, but the midday high tide precluded much beach walking.

I could cope with that.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Doughboy Hut

Doughboy Bay Hut, Southern Circuit, Stewart Island
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