This run of exceptionally fine weather is nearing its conclusion but when I staggered into the hut last night my Moderate Effort premise loomed, ie, assume you are not zipping by this way again, the Rakeahua valley is not so easy to access—unless you make use of the water taxi, in which case you can be delivered without raising a sweat to the landing 150 m from the hut door, not even a swamp to traverse—so it’s worth making that effort to see things along the way, there may not be any next time.

The views from Mt Rakeahua are the full 360º, plonked in the middle of the island relatively isolated from any other high ground.

On a fine day.

On the other hand, a weather bomb is supposed to be dropping, snow to sea level, a huge dump of rain, and I have two 5 hour days to cross the boggiest landscape on the island, low-lying territory big-time.

I warm to the hut and think, what the hell, those weather forecasts have proved, mostly, over-alarmist, maybe it’ll arrive late, I’ll climb the hill if it looks okay in the morning. As it turned out, not a cloud in the morning, well, a few around, I’m sticking around in this great little hut for another night and will deal with the consequences: might get wet.

The walk up the well-marked track proves my thoughts from yesterday: not much traffic, not much chopping of the vegetation, a fabulous walk, always on an incline. It’s a 680 m climb up, not so far, but for the most part, a reasonable gradient, which helps not to have a pack. I startle two kiwis on the way and come across another feathered species that completely baffles me in identification but later learn are southern NZ dotterels.

At the 500 m mark the shrubs shrink to knee height, it’s pretty fragile up here, alpine conditions really at almost 47º S, the weather is less fair now and although I can make out the sea to the west and long slivers of the inlet to the east it is clear that any views to the north ain’t gunna be had. The wind whistles in, and I’ve donned my second beanie and gloves.

At the top there is some form of radio repeater, as thought there’s not much of a view at all, the wind hacking away, windchill a major factor, not much point in sticking around. By the time I get back to the hut, the sun is out but the big cypress trees are shaking around in the wind. Seems like that rain is on the way.

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

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Rakeahua Hut

Rakeahua Hut, Southern Circuit, Stewart Island
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