Pitching the wet tent directly under the bridge last night wasn’t such a bad idea. This morning dew and condensation weren’t an issue, and the sleeping bag seemed slightly more fluffy, which was not fluffy much it all.

Up to Hamilton Hut, I stayed there in early September, there was a 4WD track, old, partly washed out, bouldery, or at least rocky, so with the few river crossings thrown in it was just one of those days smashing out 17 of the 18km until the beech forest was finally reached.

Today marks quite a demarcation in the South Island part of Te Araroa.

To the north, forests, some long walks down wide-ish valleys, often oriented north/south, on reasonably clearly demarcated tracks, signage, quite a few swing bridges, a hut almost every night.

To the immediate south of Hamilton Hut it changes to tussock for a few hundred kilometres, crossing the big valleys, which flow west to east now, big river crossings, then scoot up the tributaries and over passes to another tributary. There’s plenty of tussock, old sheep grazing areas where you follow 4WD tracks. The huts are more sporadic and generally older, musterer’s huts from time long ago.

Up north I’m now in a different, maybe easier world. Certainly more familiar.

But first I’ll be down at that highway after lunch, trying to hitch to Greymouth for a few days r and r.

There might be fresh food, a shower or three, and some conversation thrown in there as well.

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A guide to the night’s accommodation: West Harper Hut

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