With the new rigid boots, the only ones I could find in Greymouth that were my size were alpine boots, and now ten day food ballast I’m feeling almost enthusiastic about walking down 1000m+ inclines, and trudging up trackless rivers.

The day was the opposite of yesterday where low cloud truncated my progress.

Not a cloud, no wind, ie, big views.

Just a short walk up to the pass although it’s not even really a pass, just the top of a hill, and, whammo, there’s the Taramakau I was speeding up about this time yesterday, and beyond that, quite close, the blue of Tasman Sea. Oh, and the Taipo Valley way down there.

Nothing like the party of eight Australians, well, six Australians and two Americans to be accurate, to encourage an early start, ie, before 8am.

The southern rata is in ferocious bloom up the top near the treeline, it’s finished as you drop lower.

I popped into the old Dillon Homestead which is sort of being done up, photos on the walls of the old days, deer shooting in 1947, that sort of thing.

And I went to the new Dillon Hut, built by DOC because the old Homestead was to be demolished, it’s on private land, the access has been washed away after they build a gold dredge to work 7 Mile Stream, just downstream, in the 1960s. Seems public pressure encouraged DOC to retain the homestead, it’s important to have some historic evidence for future reference.

At the new hut I also sit for an hour, and then, almost 3pm, think I better keep moving, I can camp if I need to.

There’s not much in the way of the track until you get to the gorge just below the hut, except where I find one on the true right above the swing bridge I get fully gorsed in and have to retreat a fair way. My river crossing choice was poor, I’m looked for a grey bottom, avoiding the brown coloured rocks, but it turned out way deeper than anything in the Rakaia even, my shorts receiving a full rinse, that water was unbelievably clear.

In the gorge was a fallen tree stump with a major swarthe of flowering orchid covering it, I put that down as the sixth species sighted in these travels, it’s these little snippets that provide some interesting details to the day’s travels, more interesting than huge gorse bushes.

I get this hut to myself, not many stay here, it’s either Julia or Dillon these days.

I, of course, don’t mind some solitude, it’s back at West Harper, five nights ago, when I last had a night on my own, and this is a familiar old NZFS-style hut, six bunks.

I’m happy to arrive because the time ain’t so far off 8pm.

Even if I hadn’t mucked around quite so much it would have been a huge day to get all the way to Julia Hut.

But then what’s the point of tramping these new routes if you don’t spend the time to soak up the experience.

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A guide to the night’s accommodation: Mid Taipo Hut

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