Caroline Bivvy is on the edge of remoteness although the trail up to the top of Waiau Pass has been recently recut, there’s still an element of excitement about those passes accessed from here, Waiau, of course, more used now with the Te Araroa Trail bringing people through, the bivvy gets about 100 people visiting a year, mostly in summer; Thompson Pass, over into the East Mataki, camping at Lake Thompson a worthwhile option; D’Urville Pass, into, durr, the D’Urville; and a few more that various energetic people drop in from.

And it’s a fairly long trudge in from, say, Christopher Hut, 24 km, or even down to Lake Guyon which is about 18 km or so, although, to be honest, it’s about as easy walking as you can get for the majority of the way, a little used, grassy 4WD track, at least until the Maling Pass turnoff, there’s one short section of not quite bluff to clamber around, the river cuts close and there are two crossings in the last kilometre up by the bivvie, to give those socks a good rinse out, the river not too deep, mid-calf height, the flow might be swift but the greywacke rocks give decent grip for my boots.

Today’s return trip, well, to Lake Guyon was in the drizzle most of the time, never reaching rain as defined, not enough to get the river up, I crossed at the wide 4WD crossing near the Maling Pass track, make that 4WD road, soon blocked to vehicular traffic, it’s part of the St James Cycleway which looks like a goer sometime on my trusty mountain bike.

The hut is on the edge of a small patch of mountain beech, the lake just down there and a considerable expansion on last night’s bivvie, fully cat, or possum, swingable. New bunks and even the standard DOC mattresses, a bloke can stretch out, it’s been two weeks since the last occupants vacated. There’s the sound of the nearby stream, and more honking by those geese, the occasional splash of a jumping trout. The hut site is marked by row of poplar trees that show that even if it’s been abandoned that sometime in the past people made a huge effort of trying to scratch out a living up here, as you get closer there’s remnants of a riveted steel water tank and some scraggly ancient fruit trees, there was the old Guyon Homestead here, with a great siting for views over the lake, but as for making that living, it must have been extremely tough.

The hut book recounts reminiscences of a 94-year-old who recently walked in from the Maling Pass road end, just after Christmas 2012, writing about the location of two houses here, with clay and tussock insulation, six kids raised here, he first came here in 1947.

All that’s required is the usual sandfly extermination drive and it should be quite comfy.

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