Well, what a day for exercise. I can’t think of any other in recent times that was quite so strenuous. There were extensive periods when this was just an enormous wrestle through the shrubbery with that heavily laden pack.

In retrospect it’s amazing I actually stayed on the route, I had some major doubts just after lunch. The track seemed to evaporate, although I should really say dissolve. I think that DOC has its own track to their secret hut for the dotterel protection work and there was no evidence my track had been used for a long while, for substantial periods, particularly after a collapsed bivvy had been reached. It’s a case of smashing your pack through the combination of olearia and manuka scrub twiggery. Even when you finally make it up a sharp hundred metre incline and the manuka is around eye height there are periods of extreme energy, both physical and mental, as the bashing continues.

Eventually, as things both good and bad thing tend to do, all that came to an end and I finally popped out onto the closely trimmed tops. Extensive views were to be had to the north, there’s even Mt Anglem in the distance and Mt Rakeahua quite obvious, Codfish Island in the afternoon mist, you can clearly see South-west Arm, the tide is low.

What’s underfoot changes to an alpine herbage, sodden, sponge-like, an energy sapping spring required with each step. Well, I always knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

Higher up Table Hill, 716 m, there’s even a few snow poles there to mark the way, you get to see both sides of the coast, white breakers down at Doughboy Bay, a few small islands looking over the kakapo lands to the east.

Seems any potential camping site is a choice between two of sheltered, dry and level. I pick the first two, it’s not apparent there are any sites around here with all three features.

The late afternoon whistling cloud disappears, there’s patches of blue sky. I don’t intend for another big day tomorrow, it’s Christmas Day, just get over Blaikies Hill and find a tent site with the full complement of amenity.

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