First up, a 600 m ascent.

I left early, the other two who struggled in yesterday afternoon were showing no signs of movement. The good thing of the climb was that it didn’t muck around, it went straight up. Finally leaving the farmland with the track to the main ridge over ancient grassland, no sign of stumps, maybe a legacy of the moa hunters 500 years ago.

The other excellent thing about the climb was that it was a chance say farewell to this first stage of the track, the coast was visible, in fact you can see all the way to Bluff Hill, Stewart Island was in cloud but the Longwood Forest hills and Woodlaw was readily apparent, looking along way off. I’ve made reasonable ground in the last few days.

There had been vague plans to have a rest day at some stage, like a half day of getting to Lower Wairaki Hut before 1 pm, as I managed today. For some reason 8 km didn’t seem such a bad idea, I could easily have stayed. But someone had written in the hut book the walk to the next that was “easy”, the track “flat”, it would take “3.5 to 4 hours”, despite the DOC sign saying a particularly specific five and a quarter hours.

No worries, I’m still feeling frisky, so I plod on and indeed the first kilometre or so is fairly straightforward. After that, well, I would describe it as a Moderate Effort, emphasis on effort, it sure wasn’t flat, the day’s climbing was more than 1200 m and this bloke was thinking that the rest day idea hadn’t been such a bad one.

Plenty of time was spent admiring the botany, still pure silver beech territory, with a major crown fern understory, the new fronds still pale green, there’s pockets of New Zealand stinging nettle in the damp areas, and a few orchids.

Eventually I bunged up the tent in some pasture, only moderately sloping, still an hour from the hut.

I’ll try to stay in the second hut tomorrow, that’s Lower Princhester, and give the others a chance to catch up. I haven’t seen anyone at all today.

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