1 Feb. One of the shorter days, so up at 06:30 and took time over breakfast. Off at 08:30. The terrain was similar to the previous days, beech forests and grass flats. Unfortunately I missed seeing any signs for the natural hot pools, so arrived at Hurunui Hut at 11:30 after just over 10km.
Most people on the trail have some fixed dates to meet like flights home, so they are naturally anxious to push on and avoid delay on the trail. I am fortunate to have no deadlines, so I have decided to go for shorter more relaxed days, unless there is a need to get the distance. There is a quiet enjoyment to arriving early at an empty hut, even if it is empty for a short time.
Locke Stream Hut is another 6-7 hours, but as the sun was shining, it was a nice afternoon to relax with a skinny dip in the river before the sandflies came out in force and to get some washing done. Demelza and Rau arrived later. They had found the hot spring and had a dip but noted that it was well used and had an unpleasant scum on the water surface. Maybe I was cleaner in the river.
The clouds thickened later in the afternoon. Definitely looks like the forecast rain is coming. Beef bourguignon dehy with mash for dinner.
As we settled down, two couples arrived on a long day from Hope Kiwi Lodge. Miriam (from Dresden, Germany) and Dan (from Bristol, UK). Miriam is walking the whole trail and she met Dan in Hanmer Springs on her rest day. Such was the instant attraction he joined her for this section. First romance on the trail and it seems to be going very well ❤️. Fred and Rachael are from London but currently sailing the Mediterranean Sea on a year away from work (http://sailingastrid.weebly.com) They are in NZ for a month away from Med storms and just doing the South Island to Arthur’s Pass. We are all headed for Locke Stream Hut tomorrow.