It’s not often I have a change of plans about my destination on an impromptu basis.

Occasionally I decide a second night in a hut, like when I zipped up the Three Tarn Pass route a couple of days ago from Ada Flat hut, or another night camping on the beach north of Heaphy Hut last week. But between the time the first couple left at around 6:30am and my departure, err, sometime later I decided with a few extra days in my itinerary I would go on a more extended route to Anne Hut, ie, turn left and head up the Waiau to Guyon Lake hut then follow down, or up, the Stanley River back to the Waiau with the next night at Pool hut, ie, two easy days.

There’s even a couple of bridges over the Waiau which can be a big and gnarly crossing after any rain.

By the time I’d hit the track that scoots up the Waiau, I’m now on the greatest of New Zealand trails, Te Araroa, ie, Cape Reinga to Bluff, there’s a sign saying Caroline Bivvy is 6.5 hours away, I’m moving that way, I take a short lunchbreak, it’s heavily overcast although the intermittent rain of the last 30 odd hours has stopped, when I get to the Lake Guyon turn off, a river crossing required to head over there, although the Waiau has fanned out and it looks knee deep at worst, another sign says Caroline Bivvy just five hours.

The deal is if it’s before 12 pm I’ll head upstream, and, taking a photo to find out the time, gee, it’s still 11 something am. Just.

So, second change of plan for the day I’m continuing up the Waiau. There’s still the 4WD farm track that continues past the Maling Pass turnoff, that’s probably where I’ll cross on my way back tomorrow, on the other side is the St James Cycleway, a long-distance, ie, multi-day mountain bike trail.

Eventually there is some localised scrambling to get around the river which is getting smaller every time I see it, running swiftly and absolutely clear. In the last k before the hut the markers show a double crossing of the Waiau, my feet have been wet since, well, the boots just don’t dry out with a super water absorbent inner sole, easier to get into the wet socks in the morning, but the river is only mid-calf height and I sort of skipped through.

The bivvy is really cute, the door is about 1500 mm high although I can stand up straight inside, even if it’s not possible to fully stretch out on the canvas bunks, basically hammock-like, I guess the bivvy is 8’ × 6’, that’s 2.4 metres by 1.8.

No fireplace of course, open fires have been removed from accommodation for the most part by DOC but I’m not really of the fire lighting kind, it’s reasonably warm at this time of year.

It’s at 900 m elevation here, nestled into a delightful grove of black-trunked mountain beech, not so far from the river, you can hear it rushing by on its busy way, and the honk of the Canada geese which seem to populate these valleys in small flocks, 8 to 10 birds, they like to announce their presence, taking their cue from the paradise ducks with their continual insistent, bleep, bleep, bleep.

No better word, yeah, delightful.

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