I made it out!
The climb this morning up Bald Hill was gratifying, and I had a long morning tea at the top under the cellphone tower, taking the opportunity to check in with the online world and make phone calls.
I had a great view of the south coast and Stewart Island, probably the last glimpse of the sea I shall see in a good while.
Another couple of hours through boggy tussock and beech forest, I came to the end of the Longwood Track. With inevitably wet feet I walked slowly down the four wheel drive track that took me down to the roads’ end, which then led me straight to Merriview Hut.
Merriview Hut is a private hut on farmland. The owners built it in March last year and charge $10 a night, which includes a mattress, drinkable water, and a toilet. They also had free range eggs available for purchase at 50c each, of which I bought and ate six during my time there!
When I arrived the hut was already populated with lots of southbound hikers. I pitched my tent happily, knowing that I had a day off tomorrow and was going to have first dibs on beds the following night.
The evening was spent chatting to the group, who had been more or less travelling together since they left Cape Reinga. They were friendly and I was adopted into the evening’s conversation and joking instantly, as it happens when everyone is on the road.
A little more draining of blisters (this time with a sewing needle given to me by one of the hikers – fancy!) and a good drying out of my feet and gear, and I went to bed, after saying goodnight to the puppy and the horse.