We woke up to the Australian couples 7am alarm going off. It was actually a good thing as we hadn’t intended to sleep that late and had wanted to start earlier. We ended up not getting going until around 8:20. It wasn’t as cold when we set out as it has been recently but some of the grass was still frozen. We also near immediately got our feet wet, which is seeming pretty standard for the South island.
We quickly climbed up to a small saddle with a view of a really blue lake and took our first bar break at the top. We were feeling energetic today but wary that we always seem to feel really sluggish after lunch. We pushed on pretty hard and after a while passed two old men who warned us that there were no track markers coming up and the trail followed the edge of the forest. A little ways on the trail did come to the edge of the forest but it quickly went back in again and was well marked. Hopefully they made it to the next hut okay.
Coming out of the forest we crossed the valley (through a field of cattle) and reached a swing bridge on the other side that led up and to the first hut. It was a pretty nice hut and we stopped in here for lunch.
After lunch the trail dropped down to the flats next to the river and we mysteriously covered about 5km in 45 minutes and reached the side trail to the hot spring. We’d heard a lot about it but it ended up being just a tiny little pool barely big enough to get in. We both dipped our feet in.
The trail went from here up and through some tough forest with steep climbs and many downed trees. Not as bad as yesterday’s section but getting around downed trees was definitely a theme of the day. The trail kept going betwixt the flats, easy forest, and hard forest until the next hut. We saw our first wild cat here as it darted about five feet in front of Heather. It looked just like a fluffy cat.
Normally we would’ve stayed here but we knew there were mice and I wanted to go a little further so we pushed on. We passed another really old hut after a little bit and then decided to make camp another few kilometers past that. On the way came across our first three rope swing bridge which heather elected to walk around. The sandflies are pretty bad but we’re hiding from them in the tent and may even have a dry enough night to keep the rainfly off.