During the night the wind picked up. Because I had hydrated so well last night I needed to go to the toilet and as soon as I made the decision to get up it started raining so I curled back into my sleeping bag and went back to sleep hoping I would not dream of running water.
I was up at 0630 and everyone else was also up. During the night mice had got into Fred's pack and sampled his tortillas. There were mice in both other rooms but none in ours - that we noticed.
I was first off today at 0730. It was windy and occasionally there was light rain but it felt like it was going to open up with heavy rain at any moment. The track started in the open on old vehicle tracks and was a nice warm up though the stream crossing near the start was not warm. The track then headed into the bush and this was a change from last time I walked this track as an army exercise. I think the change was to avoid the swampy bit.
Once on the original track it was lovely and fast and in good condition. The track headed uphill gradually to the saddle. I kept expecting Fred and Nev to catch me which meant when I needed a toilet stop I needed to get well off the trail so I didn't give them a fright.
From Kiwi Saddle the track undulated and came to another saddle with a lookout point a couple of minutes off the main trail and up a hill. The trees in front were too tall to see much either side but I could see the Lake.
As I was coming down Fred, Nev and Michael were going up so I had a guage of how far behind they were.
The track then undulated for a while gently going downhill to a Swingbridge and then on the flats until the end of the Lake. Now the track deteriorated and became rougher with lots of roots and deadfall to negotiate. This part was only a few km but took ages and was tiring. In this part I met Lucas another northbounder.
I then came into the open and headed across the flat to a large swingbridge. The weather improved and there were patches of blue sky and some sun. At the Swingbridge I tried to go right but the track petered out so I went left and came to a junction where I could go right to the next hut. It was only 20 minutes through bush on a good track to reach Hurunui Hut. 5 minutes short of the hut I saw a Kea. It flew across the track in front of me and landed at the next corner. I love the flash of orange they have when flying. Kea are a very intelligent green mountain parrot which are quite large and are destructive when curious or bored.. When I reached the corner the Kea looked at me for a while and walked closer for a better look. It then walked away and flew off. I was pretty chuffed with this encounter as I love Kea.
At the hut I filled in the Hut Book and then had lunch. Just as I was packing up the guys arrived.
The track headed downhill and out into the open river flats which were hard work into a strong headwind but I still made good time to the first junction. Only 800 meters from here was meant to be a hot pool but this took a while as from here the track became difficult again and was constantly up and down in and out of stream valleys, through roots, muddy patches and some deadfall. I smelt the hot pools well before seeing them. I came in under them and gave some mature ladies a fright as they were skinny dipping. I told them they had 20-30 minutes before the guys came along. They got out and I stripped to just undies and had a nice soak. The temperature was perfect and the Sandflys kept away from the pool though they were active in the area where I changed. There was a bit of tree debris in the pool so I found a rock to sit on. Once I was still the debris settled down. I then put my clothes back on and continued.
I was now really sleepy and my legs like jelly so the next part was challenging. It was more continuous up and down and clambering over trees and roots. I had to concentrate as the markers were hard to spot because of the amount of trees down due to storm damage.
The track then crossed an electric fence and came into open matagouri covered grass and the markers were too short to see over the matagouri. I lost the trail at one point but knew roughly where it should be and 20 meters later I was on a vehicle track and reached the hut not long after.
It was only 1520 but I decided to stop for the day as the two previous days were long and I was a little tired. 1630 Michael turned up and the others just before 1900. It was the same people as yesterday and my third night of just kiwis in a hut. We Had a fun evening and before going to bed hung our packs as the hut book talked about a lot of mice. They started appearing before it was even dark.