Three nights in Greymouth, that’s time to wash the entire wardrobe in two tranches, refill the pack with food, find a new pair of boots and gaitors, recharge the batteries and the body.

Now, raring to go.

The idea is to fit in a separate trip from the official Te Araroa Trail as I make my way back to where I started hitching. There’s the opportunity to explore part of the western edge of Arthurs Pass National Park, head over into the Taipo River valley and up over Harman Pass into the top of the Waimak River. How could I pass up the chance of doing that?

So I ended up catching the bus to Otira, failing to see my turn off, so having a short wander backdown the road. For some reason DOC hadn’t marked the start of the track along the highway, there was a sign 200m up the creek.

With the weather looking decidedly murky at high level it seemed sensible just to make it to the first hut, tomorrow is supposed to be clearing, there’s an hour or so zipping over the tops required, fairly exposed, and visibility would be useful.

I’m lugging enough food to get to Boyle Village, 11 days, where I’ve sent a lump of a food parcel, the itinerary from there is also calling for 11 days food aboard.

The hut is very close, only it’s vertically a challenge, 1000m to climb roughly, man you get up there in a hurry, it’s real steep in places.

There is a profusion of botany down in the valley for some reason, maybe the 5000mm of rain for a year, huge rata trees in flower towards the bushline, big Dracophyllum trees, Mount Cook lilies, and a variety of mountain daisies.

At the bushline the clouds are around my ears, visibility is indeed quite low, but the track is clear on the ground and it’s just a short hop to the empty hut.

It doesn’t stay that way for long, a group of eight wander in through the fog from the other direction.

Looks like it will be a lively evening.

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A guide to the night’s accommodation: Carroll Hut

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