The tent held! Whiona had pitched it tight and in the right direction. She'd also put up the drip catcher.
When it rains the vibration of the drops hitting the tent causes any condensation to rain on those sleeping below. We were dry.
When I looked out under the door I saw the snow. Not on us but on the surrounding hills and mountains. Last night had been a real southerly storm.
Yesterday's track over the pass would be a very cold prospect today.
As Whiona packed the tent I made breakfast. Again no coffee. Gulp.
But I did heat through the Gooseberries. The night before we'd crushed them and mixed in honey, sugar and a sachet of cinnamon.
Note: the Americans we'd been walking with had never heard the word "sachet"...who knew?
I mixed up an instant pudding into a drink bottle with powdered milk and water.
Thick shake and Gooseberry stew for brekkie. 10 out of 10. But take away 5 penalty points for caffeine withdrawal.
We left the shelter belt about 9.30.
500 metres later Anna came out from her trees.
We'd last seen her charging past us up the bulldozer track the day before. We were surprised to see her.
Anna carries a Spot Tracker. An amazing device that allows friends and family to see exactly where you are.
The people she'd stayed with in Wanaka had been following her progress and when they'd heard the storm warning they came around to see how she was. This meant she got a ride into Omarama where she'd been bought a chicken and lettuce sandwich.
"Oh my god! The lettuce was so crunchy!"
They'd dropped her where they'd picked her up and she'd tented in the shelter belt too.
Coincidentally her friends arrived at the roadend as Ron was digging up his stash.
If you haven't already gathered, Ron is a one-of-a-kind. After he flew in from Canada he bought a bike and cycled all over the South Island burying large bags of food and supplies.
He's living off his pension - so budgets are tight...but his years in the Canadian Forest Service have made him very resilient and resourceful.
His Ahuriri River stash was buried at one of the biggest farm gates he'd ever seen. He didn't have any trouble finding it.
We walked on up a valley and into another that ran between two snow covered mountain ranges. The wind was icy so we spent our first lunch behind a large rock. We'd walked seven of the 19ks we'd planned to walk that day.
A couple of kilometres on we saw the hut across the stream. It's not on the trail and everyone we'd talked to about it considered it abandoned. The TeA notes say it is "derelict but may provide some shelter".
Whiona has a feeling that it may be a haunt of fishing buddies Brian Turner and Dave Witherow (see the Research section of our website for reviews of these guys' excellent books).
Were we in for a surprise.
The old musterers' hut from the 1890s has been restored by DoC.
It has a concrete block floor, two DoC mattresses and a brand new red door.
It didn't seem right to stop our day early, but the chance to wash, plan our next moves and sit in the sun, while sheltering from the southerly wind that was roaring up the valley, was hard to resist. Our other option was another night in the tent above Lake Ohau.
To quote Brian Turner:
"I've stayed in a lot of back-country huts and I've slept, in a fashion, in too many damned tents. Wherever, I've always preferred huts, no matter how smelly or ramshackly they were; tents I put up with in the absence of anything better"
"It's true that some huts aren't up to much, are draughty, cramped and home to rodents, but all are better than a tent in a storm."
There isn't a longdrop there (yet) and the six bunks are rough hand-tied wire wove that will pop any modern inflatable mattress...but it is far from derelict.
I'm writing this as I lie in my bunk. Matagori is scraping the tin outside. Our pet mouse, Witherow, is eating potato flakes on the breakfast table.
This is so much better than a tent.
P.S. We had coffee for pudding. The gas was holding out.