Another day, another scenario. Back to the crowds.

But to a new, unique, experience in a hut on this Deep South Exploratory Expedition: everyone in the hut is a kiwi, all nine of us. It’s back to the real world.

Yes, a return to civilisation soon enough, just one more night after this one and I’ll be moving back towards my own comfy bed. The old knee is still playing up so I took it easy coming back down Steele Creek, more of that fine track, sometimes just a narrow path in the sphagnum and club moss that has sprung to full vibrancy after last night’s rain, the highlight a quick flash from a kaka as it took off to parts elsewhere that didn’t include a human presence.

I then met a fast moving local party of four, two blokes and their teenage daughters, perhaps the girls not so keen on their proposed day’s adventure, 10 or 12 hours up and over the low saddle at the top of Steele Creek, the route not recently cut there and with a major distance of prickly scrub to push through from the hut logbook accounts.

Then, for me, it was back to the Greenstone, some of the walk over river flats, sometimes near the river, big views both up and down the valley, not dissimilar to big valleys around Nelson Lakes, although stray cow pets remind you that civilisation ain’t so far away. There was a short section through an area of beech saplings, clearly wind damage is an issue. The river narrows into a spectacular chasm you could almost leap it if you were the thrill seeker type, it’s long way down, the river heard more than seen. Rather than testing my leaping prowess with my now light pack I took the simple wooden bridge, and after a brief climb the newish and splendid hut is reached.

And with that New Zealand contingent conversation flows easily: a family of four from Invercargill, two daughters 14 and 10, a Queenstown lawyer and his son and friend, and a young skier from Wanaka preparing for a trip to the USA.

The NZ backcountry hut is a simple egalitarian device that renders us all equal, it’s all entirely face value, any pretensions are soon spotted, us older lot can cope with this very easily and one of the major things I enjoy about my return to NZ. My experience in Australia was quite different where what suburb you lived in and your occupation was often of consequence around a campfire.

No one here cares about your life elsewhere, so what, it’s how you present right now, this minute, that matters.

I’m happy to be here and even happier there is not so much of this Little Adventure to come. Just two days walking and then the journey back home.

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