After waiting for a Weather window in Otaki for 3 days in relative luxury on day 74 I was back on the Trail. Instead of walking up the Gable End ridge to Te Matawai Hut I chose to take the Waiopehu ridge knowing i had to wait out another day for the weather to fully clear and that i would have mobile coverage for a weather report. The problem with spending a zero day in a hut is your snack food disappears fast. Something you don’t notice for a few days. Day 75 was as predicted bad so i wasn’t going anywhere. Day 76 and on my way, the forecast was for a few isolated showers late in the afternoon, how widespread could isolated be? It was hot work, up past Te Matawai hut and onto the ridge heading for Nicols Hut, no wind sunshine. Well that was the plan, looking back down i could see a few folks arriving at Te Matawai they would have had a fairly hard day coming up a long, wet & steep track after yesterdays downpours but the hut was bathed in sunshine (and stayed that way for the rest of the day). Reaching the summit of Pukematawai the forecast showers started, if sleet counts as showers and the next 4 hrs on the one ridge counts as isolated, it was cold. About now I was glad for the first time in 75 days that i’m not an advocate of ultralight hiking, nothing beats having the correct gear for the conditions. No way i was making Nicols hut today, luckily there is a nice little Biv about halfway along the ridge. The last one of these i stayed in was about the size of a dog kennel and took 2 hrs of searching to find (another story) This one was luxury and in the middle of the track :))
The next morning the weather cleared and i was treated to one of the few days of the year there is perfect conditions in the Tararuas, fantastic views, clear skies and no wind. Over Mt Crawford then Junction Knob and onto Waitewaewae Hut. Day 78 and I only planned on going out to the Otaki forks as on a trip up here in September it had taken 8 hrs to walk out, the others who came down to Waitewaewae planned to walk out to Waikanae, 2 out of the 3 did, that was a long day even though the first 100 or so walkers through had worn an easier path through the sidle route. I met a Few northbound walkers trying to beat the next round of bad weather heading up this way would be tough. Day 79 and out to Waikanae the weather held the whole way. Not far to Wellington now.