8. Mason Bay – Freshwater

Saturday, February 18: Sunny & hot

Tramping: 14.0 km

Freshwater Hut (Doc)

Managed to sleep in until about 9:00 (the others only had to get up to catch their flight back), so the morning was rather relaxed packing. I was ready to go soon after 10:00 and planned on making a number of hydration breaks along the way.

Stopped first of all at the homestead for a sip, then charged along the somewhat muddy section, which, however, was rapidly drying out, so that most of the mud required no major detours or planning. Ran into a German, Frank, who was doing Freshwater-Mason Bay and back again in a day, followed by an American couple who were staying at Mason Bay tonight and wanting to be back tomorrow morning for the water taxi at 9:00. Finally, a Dutch woman who was doing a more leisurely pace but had everything with her including a bed roll. After that just empty track.

Took one photo of the manuka grove (2013) in the sunshine this time, as well as a couple of the swamp later down the track. Also tried to get a couple of dragonflies but the focus was not behaving as intended.

Stopped again at the beginning of the flood-prone section. The board walk takes up all of a couple of minutes and the flood-prone section was over by about half an hour.

The last section took about an hour with another hydration stop, but very little mud. I could see where I was heading and was just about to make another break when the final sign turned up. Washed the boots, brought my pack into the left dorm, saw what I later identified as Frank’s stuff & moved into the other dorm. Have a sandfly bite on the left knee, and put the anaesthetic onto it, which has settled it down. Washed my feet as well and unrolled the sleeping bag for a bit of a lie down. Just before I could have gone to sleep, Frank reached the hut. I put on my pjs, and in the process the Bushman, and he wanted to go for a swim – first didn’t like the landing on this side of the river, so he went over to the jetty.

Google Map of the day’s hike. GPS quality: 30/30, coverage: 100%, download: Mason Bay - Freshwater GPX (58 downloads)
Can’t see map? Click here!

Coffee & cake (from him, hot water from me, although gas is running low) introduced the wider ranging discussion. He is formerly a steward @ Lufthansa from Bückeburg, in some form of commerce (or was, early retirement), on his way from South America via Antarctica to NZ (not his first stay) and has always wanted to do a couple of days on Stewart Island, and this time it has worked, while his boat (Russian expedition workhorse) is in Invercargill. From there it’s back to Germany via Singapore in a couple of days. He has since elected for a snooze, and the temperature in the hut has reached 29° with the flywire windows open.

Wonder whether an additional water taxi will pull in tonight. Wasn’t the case, so we chatted until it was dark. We could hear a few kiwis in the distance, but nothing close, and as we have to be up at 7:30, we decided to go to bed relatively early.

Frank snored every now and then, not too much and I was soon asleep. He had no sleeping bag with him & eventually had to cover himself with another mattress and lie on his back to keep warm.