I’d anticipated two nights at Long Harry Hut, a favourite hut of mine over the years where I’d always had a break. It’s about the halfway mark on the North West Circuit, and has a splendid location on a cliff overlooking the Southern Ocean. Two good reasons that suggest staying is a good idea.

But I thought that after two nights together, my two women companions deserved a break from me, and in my instance the hop over the hill to Smoky Beach would be sufficient.

That meant I had a lot of time to scratch around in the forest. Some classic rimu forest is found on the way up and particularly on the saddle where it is predominantly rata.

A few kākāriki to be heard. No kiwis sighted, although there was plenty of recent evidence of their presence with their obvious footprints in the sand dunes.

By the time I reached the beach there was plenty of wind that I was smashing into. It was well after lunch when I made the hunters hut.

Seemed a great place to stay, although as usual I avoided a fire. A thick book provided some focus as I slid into my sleeping bag early, but it didn’t hold my attention long.

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