Day 63: James Mackay Hut to Perry Saddle Hut

Sun 26 March 2017

  • Km Today: 24
  • Total Km: 1133

Heaphy Track

Today I set off whilst most are still having breakfast or rising for the day. There is a decent amount of walking to do today and the forecast is not looking favourable. For now though the rain has waned despite the clouds hanging close to the ground. The track is in great condition and I marvel at the course broken granite to walk on. Imagine how many kitchen bench tops you could make with this? For a start the trail leads through the  alpine tussock with the odd little stream crossing – the larger boggy bits have boardwalks which they should being that this in a ‘New Zealand Great Walk’

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The vegetation is varied and I particularly like the Dr Suess type trees which are abundant in pockets across track. As normally happens every day, one of my hiking poles gets stuck in the ground and I leave it behind. This time I actually take a picture of the protruding pole – something which can happen 3-4 times a day.

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When I reach the Saxon Hut after a couple of hours on the trail it has began to drizzle quite heavily. I stop in the empty hut for a quick bite and shake off the water. There is not much to see and do after watching the weka tear about the tussock. The first photo doesn’t show that there is rain however it is evident once I reach the Gouland Downs, an expansive tussock covered plateau that was once leased for farming although the stock didn’t fare well so they gave up. The Gouland Downs hut is a real beauty and is the oldest hut on the track, although unfortunately it was raining too hard when I was there for me to take a photo. My phone, even though in its plastic zip-lock bag, was already going on the blink as my shorts were getting wetter and wetter by the minute.

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After the Gouland Downs the tussock gives way to beech forest over a largely granite base. Being that it is such a wet area the moss is growing all over the trees and even in the rain it is magical place, fit for fairies and goblins. I continue to trudge through the drizzle with head down and contemplating my feet until I reach the famed ‘boot pole’ corner, before finally arriving at the Perry Saddle Hut – my final hut of the track and another modern example of a great walk hut. Along with visitors from Australia, my walking buddies the sisters and Angus, there is a fabulous group of ladies from Mt Maunganui staying at the hut tonight who are most entertaining and make for a great evening.

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