I left the Backpacker just after 0800 and went to the Hollyford Cafe which I had seen last night did the best breakfast deal $15 for toast, bacon, fried egg, baked beans and 2 hash browns and a hot drink which I had cupaccino.
Feeling nicely full I walked a km to where the two exits from Te Anau meet. There was a guy there trying to hitch but for some reason he was standing at the end of the wide bit. I stood at the start of the wide bit which is against hitchhiker etiquette (later arrivals should go past current hitchhikers so they get first ride) but I figured he should stand somewhere better and I was not going to delay getting a ride due to his poor placement. Also as a female tramper I have a much higher chance of being picked up. Only a couple of minutes later two ladies drove past and after looking at me pulled over and picked me up. They then decided as they had picked me up they would also pick the guy, German as most backpackers are, too. The ladies were from Australia and driving up the country. I was the first hitchhiker they had ever picked up.
After being dropped off I had a 6 km walk on the most perfect gravel road. Gravel roads came in a variety of types which you really notice when walking. Most are higher in the middle and angle down each side with this angle being steep on some. This road was not raised and was completely flat.The surface is the next difference with some rocky, some hard as concrete and the perfect ones smooth with a slight layer of dust as cushioning. The final factor is the size of the gravel with the finer gravel the better. This track had even fine gravel.
It only took 1 hour 10 minutes to complete the 6 km despite taking it easy. Chelsea was still there having decided to take a rest day. We chatted about gear and other things as I repacked some things in preparation for rain. Dan Slattery who I had last seen in Tongariro Crossing start point turned up just as I was leaving.
The track was now in bush climbing a few hundred metres over 2.5 km to a saddle. It was a great tramping track standard. Rough enough to require full concentration but clear enough to allow good momentum. I really enjoyed it. I reached the summit in 1 hour and descended 2 km through the bush.
For the rest of the way the track alternated between nice bush tracks and challenging rough tussock or swamp with no tracks. Some of the swamp was ok with short grass and thick moss over water. Imagine walking over a waterbed as that is what I liken it to. The tussock was the hardest and I had to feel my way through for the path of least resistance, being careful of the frequent holes and waterways hidden from view. I stopped in a creek bed that had dry rocks to sit on and was sheltered from the wind to eat lunch which was hot cross buns.
At 1500 it started raining and did not stop. It got harder as I reached the junction with only 2 km to go and the temperature plummeted. Luckily from this point the track joined an old vehicle track and I was able to pick up the pace to keep warm and reach the hut quickly. I arrived at 1639 which was 5 1/2 hours from Princhester Hut.
I hung up my jacket to dry and made a hot sweet tea to warm up. I felt better after that and unpacked and settled in. I had the hot chocolate sachet I have been carrying since Taumaranui.
Dan arrived 30 minutes later. I had an early dinner of Beef Soup, Mexican Chicken Dehydrated meal and chocolate instant pudding. I then ate a packet of Delights salt and vinegar rice crackers.
As I was eating dinner Dan saw a mouse climbing into my pack!
It was cold in the hut and both of us were wearing our down jackets and hats.
Before going to bed we hung our food bags and packs as the hut book warned of mice and one was running around already. Sure enough we were unindated with mice in the night. One kept running around near my head, one decided to chew a hole in my toilet paper zip lock bag. At one stage Dan put our packs on the clothes line outside as the mice were climbing above our packs which were hanging on hooks on the wall and door and jumping onto them.