33. Mackay – Heaphy (Heaphy Track 3/4)

Wednesday, March 15: Sunny right from the beginning with some residual cloud

Tramping: 18.2 km

Heaphy Hut (Doc, $32)

I was up at 7:00, the preorganised breakfast was quickly dealt with. As there was finally a view of the mouth of the Heaphy River that was stable, a bracketed pan was on the agenda, while the spot was sending its message. Had to put the tripod up on the table on the deck to get a reasonable view but no one was complaining.

Was able to leave just after 9:00 & catch up with everyone else in the course of the morning. Track was very flat, except for a couple of trees that had fallen over & had to be detoured. Was able to get a couple of shots of the track, an inquisitive weka, and the confluence of the Lewis & Heaphy Rivers. Lewis Hut was soon reached and that was time for lunch (just under three hours). Had a look around the river and thought I could take another bracketed pan of the bridge before heading off; only, finding the way back to the track (and onto the bridge) was a little adventurous, but possible.

The scenery now changed dramatically with the appearance of the nikau palms as the track traced a path along the Heaphy River to the coast. This last part was also a leap frog and I managed to catch up with everyone except for Becky & Terry. Just under two hours were required for the final stage. Right before the hut I ran into a warden, on his way to Lewis or Mackay, and exchanged the time of day. Not many wardens about, and no one has checked the tickets so far.

In the meantime something appears to have gone wrong with the camera – all the pictures appear to be overexposed, although they contain the correct exposure information (can’t see at the moment whether the DNGs are correctly saved). Have tried different modes, and switching RAW saving on and off, but to no avail. There was a bit of moisture in the camera this morning, so perhaps drying the camera or swapping the partitions might have an effect. Really wanted to try a sunset series tonight, which would have to be done with RAW shooting at the moment, which would slow things down a bit.

I waited until the snorers took up a couple of bunks and claimed a top bunk in another room (as only top bunks were left by then). The washing & the wet stuff from yesterday could be dried on the washing line today. Took a short walk to the banks of the river, where people were having a swim.

Dinner was soon on the agenda, and although enough pots and pans were sitting around I decided to cook the rice for ten minutes, add some water and the peas, cook for another ten minutes, then add some more water and the instant noodles which I left for two minutes after which everything was mixed up with some butter. Pretty filling still, so that was OK.

Started chatting with the guys I am sharing the room with (three Kiwis apart from Joel, and one of the “family”, a rather disparate group of five people who loudly play cards and communally make decisions about dividing up the food, down to the last slice of flat bread). In the meantime the raincoat, which had still been wet from yesterday’s rain, and yesterday’s sox were dry so they were retrieved from the line.

Down to the beach. GPS quality: 30/30, coverage: 100%, downlaod: James Mackay - Heaphy GPX (62 downloads)

Decided I would chance it with the sunset and set up the intervalometer to do a shot every 10 s, remetering after every shot, with RAW enabled, for a continuous loop, and went down to the end of the lawn and set the camera up on its tripod. By now cloud was covering most of the sky, except in the west. The shots seemed to be coming in on time, during which people wandered down to the beach and back again. The camera did stop randomly after the first glow of the sunset had been reached, which was a pity because I could have allowed the camera to run until the batteries ran out, which might have caught the second glow as well.

In any case the pictures now seemed to be normal after two initial shots which were overexposed to begin with but subsequently became better exposed during the sequence.

Spoke with two women (one from Invercargill, the other from Levin) as dusk grew darker. There was some talk of kiwi hunting and my three Kiwis went to bed early in order to get up again later. The family played their card game before things grew quieter and I slipped off to bed around 9:30. Some kea were heard nearby, a morepork as well as some distant kiwis, and that was it.

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