On my first visit to Stewart Island/Rakiura I stayed at Yankee River Hut for three nights. I have told that story before, so I won’t repeat myself.

Since then, I was 19, a few things have changed. There would have been an open fire back then so there is a “new” woodburner, four extra bunks seem to have been squeezed in, and the lawn area at the front has decreased in size as it has been eroded by the river. Otherwise it seems pretty much all the same.

The passage of time doesn’t mean much here.

I am surprised by the number of hutbook entries from after Christmas to the end of January, when there were 77 parties through. The busiest night had 17 bodies in the hut. In fact people stayed most nights until Easter, but after that numbers fell away pretty rapidly. Only two parties for the entire month of July.

Very quiet here now other than the faint crash of waves, and some early morning birdsong.

Man, I suddenly realise there is not a cloud in the sky, at least the direction I’m looking.

That’s promising, though my tramping clothes are distinctly wet. Cool inside the hut and as is usual at this time of the year I’m still in my soft shell jacket and hoody I sleep in. Perhaps I should have bought that new sleeping bag I was contemplating after all. I must’ve slept in this one for more than 400 nights now, and it’s not as fluffy as it once was.

No frost, but I sense the temperature would be a low single figure inside the hut.

You don’t come below 46° S in winter without some expectation of cool weather, although I now know it’s the first day of spring.

Every now and again there was a tidal surge up the river, but with the Full Moon a week past the tides are not too full.

Direct sunlight is on the other side of the river, and the initial golden glow is changing.

It’s an unbelievably peaceful spot. Maybe I won’t leave until 10 am after all.

Yup, guess what?

After a day of procrastination I finally made it to the empty Long Harry Hut. I’ll be able to procrastinate the whole of tomorrow away. I’ve a decent book to read. Firewood to collect perhaps. Kiwis to look out for.

I really enjoyed the stroll here today, with the exception, perhaps, of coming down the soft sand of Smokey Beach.

The sun was out most of the day so my face will be well weatherbeaten at the end of this trip.

My favourite bits were the flattish areas of the top of the two climbs for the day, either side of Smokey Beach where the rata and broadleaf had great straggling specimens. Much more horizontal than vertical. Proper mature tree dimensions near the ground, then wind trimmed 3 m up, gotta go sideways.

Maybe just 500 m climbing for the day.

Two kiwis seen that I managed two obscure photos of, although at the time I thought I was making a movie.

Hoping I can do better than that considering I’ve now seen four kiwis, and haven’t had a decent look at any of them.

Tomorrow might be the day.

My muscles will appreciate the day off.

And I might be able to dispose of some more food to help lighten my load.

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