As we got ready for the day's walk the 4WD guys ate breakfast outside. A very considerate move. Try as hard as we might, bacon, sausages and eggs is a breakfast torture we would rather live without.
The day ahead promised to be a goody.
Not only were we in for a short tramp of only 10ks, but half way through the walk there was a hot pool perched on the side of the hill beside the river flat.
Vitaly said the hot pool came with only one price.
It was another day of river-flat walking that alternated between 4WD, DoC and our own path as we negotiated the gently meandering Hurunui River.
The big walk from the day before had left me drained and we both had sore muscles.
The hot pool an hour in to the journey was a perfect antidote.
Only 25 metres up the side of the river valley, and off the trail, the pool is becoming infamous amongst TeA travellers.
A couple from Christchurch, Campbell and Jue, arrived at the same time as us so we offered to have lunch while they had first dibs.
We prepared and ate our food in a swarm of black blood suckers down at the river. We had to eat, and walk in circles at the same time, to avoid losing more calories than we consumed.
Thankfully the others didn't last long in the pool so we grabbed our towels and headed up the hill.
The temperature was perfect. Hot enough to be hot, but cool enough to leave our skin attached to the muscle underneath.
The pool is full of forest scum which many may find slightly unappealing. The rocks that the hot water comes down from are covered in green and black slime.
Yes. It's not the Blue Pools in Rotorua, but I reckon you could scoop that forest scum up, bottle it and sell it for big bucks to the vain, desperate and wealthy.
Hurunui Body Balm. Exfoliate Yourself in 100% Pure Kiwi...Stuff.
We used the water that came down the rocks into the pool to clean the scum off.
It worked for us, but trekkers are divided as to the quality of the experience.
The sandflies weren't a problem while we were in the water, but getting dressed after our soak was another matter.
We paid in blood as Vitaly told us we would, and left for the hut as fast as we could.
As if the free hot pool wasn't enough, we were soon offered up a few circles of field mushrooms. We picked about 250 grams as we walked on to the night's accommodation.
We're not sure what happened to the original Hurunui 1 and 2 Huts (see yesterday's blog to understand what I mean by this), but it's safe to say that the modern and relatively luxurious Hurunui Hut isn't either of them.
It's big, spacious and has a log burner with a good supply of firewood.
Outside is a longdrop graveyard - a possible clue to the whereabouts of Hurunui 2. It will make an interesting archeological site one day.
There were ninja mice. But there was also a hut Robin. It sat on the chopping block as Whiona got the firewood ready, then ate its fill of worms from the disturbed earth around her feet once she'd finished.
It called out for more while I wrote this. A loud, demanding and unpretty sqwall.
They're a great bird.
I'm tempted to say: "Speaking of great birds...there was a loud call at the back door and old friend Anna walked in."
But that would be inappropriate given that it's 2015 not 1975 - we've moved on since those days.
We'd last seen each other at Stone Hut way back before the Rangitata River.
A lifetime ago.
We spent the evening catching up, comparing huts and tracks, and trying to remember where we'd been over the last few weeks.
We'd started tea before Anna arrived with an appetizer of macaroni, olive oil, cheese, pepper and mushrooms.
As she ate her mashed potato, peas and tuna, we had food Whiona had made before we left Palmy. Rehydrated vegetables - kale, carrot, onion and red pepper - with rehydrated basmati rice and curried dahl.
The taste of home.