I woke early enough to see the weather forecast in the sky. The horizon was pink. It looked like our fine weather might be about to end again.
The day's work involved walking over one of the trail's most popular routes. The long and gentle Snake Spur to the Stag Saddle (at the head of the Two Thumbs Range).
The official route travels along the floor of a valley but the ridge above is so benign and commands such good views of Lake Tekapo and Aoraki that TeA has dotted it on as an alternative route on the official maps.
If the weather's good...do it.
It takes you to the highest point on the whole trail - just over 1900 metres - and is possibly the easiest climb of its kind in the country.
As we walked up it we were chilled by a gentle breeze. We were being followed by clouds that mottled the ochre hills behind us.
Yep. We were about to get some weather.
By the time we got to the pass at the high point we were in total cloud. It was misty and if we imagined hard enough, windy.
The climb up to the pass was a bit tough. We had to negotiate a field of large pink boulders...but hey...who can complain about pink boulders.
The day before we probably would've stopped for lunch and a view...Sandra, one of yesterday's Sobos reckoned she got naked to celebrate...but it was cold and viewless so we fell down the rocky slope to lunch by a small tarn.
We arrived at Royal Hut a couple of hours later. It was foggy and bleak but we somehow managed to wash ourselves and some clothes in the stream.
We'd first come across this hut in Nobo Nathan Denmark's blog. He'd spent a night here, over Christmas, with a tour party that included Helen Clark.
It's a great wee story.
She hasn't left her signature in the book but we could see a group with her name in it.
Perhaps we'll come across John Key or Winston Peters further up the island.
Royal Hut is a big hut that's full of history.
The name was arrived at when the young Prince Charles and Princess Anne stayed there way back when. A sign of how important sheep stations used to be to New Zealand's economy.
It's situated on what was once Mesopotamia Station and the names of the members of mustering parties are written on the tin outside the door and on the inside of the door itself.
Lists going back 60-70 years. Most of the lists were topped by the name Prouting.
The Proutings still own what's left of the station and will be our hosts in a few days.
We were walking through and living in a special part of New Zealand's history.
One list was headed: 1945 Muster. V.E.Day.
The hut book was full of the names of people who probably only saw Royal Hut as something that was a bit run down.
We felt like we were staying in something that could take pride of place in Te Papa. Alongside the Cliff Whiting's Meeting House and the Paua House from Bluff.
Some parts of this trail are a privilege to be on. Royal Hut is one of them.