5 Mar. With only one window in the hut, it was the small holes in the corrugated iron walls that gave away the presence of daylight. Up at 06:45, water boiled on the gas stove without making too much noise, but everyone in the hut was awake. Usual porridge breakfast, packing everything in its usual place and I was off at 08:10. Jakob and Franziska were having a second breakfast on the track to the ridge, taking in the horizon views.
Relatively easy walking with a 300m climb from the hut onto and undulating ridge line, dropping steeply on to the Lake Hawea road.
Before the descent the route goes over Breast Hill. The name derivation seems obvious when you see the photo below. On top, there are fantastic views over the lake and I was joined by Sarah and Julia for a lunch break. I spent 90 minutes there as it was such a wonderful spot. Tim from Canberra travelling north stopped to take in the location just before I started down hill. On the way I met David and Jo from Hawea taking a coffee break. It was a regular excursion for them, a hard walk up to earn a coffee! They passed me on the way down and kindly offered me a lift into Hawea. David was taking a sabbatical from university in Christchurch and they are spending their time caravanning on a section they have bought in Hawea for their retirement.
They dropped me off at the Lake Hawea Hotel at about 15:30, which has camping, a hostel, and normal motel rooms. I opted for a room and was given a two floor studio. Plenty of room to explode my pack. The laundry only had one washing machine which was in use and no drier, so I did a hand wash of my walking gear in the bath and dried on the sunny balcony. A shower and a shave later, things felt much cleaner.
The days statistics were 15km, with 600m climb and 1200m descent. That descent was over the last 6km. Time taken was 7 hours, but that includes 90 minutes on Breast Hill.
David and Jo recommended the Sailz Cafe for and evening meal, but before that I had a beer on the hotel bar balcony. I got talking to David and Lauren from Albuquerque and Washington State, taking a year out travelling with their kids. They had just done 3 months in Australia.
At Sailz, it was very quiet. Blue cod fish and chips with salad, listening to another table of UK tourists talking about familiar things associated around Eastbourne, UK. Many people have asked if I will be going back to UK since Jenny died. Categorically no, NZ is my home now.