Dave + Brian froze, of course, as soon as the stove died out, but the rest of us slept the sleep of the just. Everybody else left quite early, once they’d had breakfast, in the direction of Ketetahi, but not one of the buggers did any of the chores around the hut, + the place was in a real mess, so it was left to us to clean up, sweep floors, chop wood, etc (ah, the life of a frontiersman.) Not that we had any real objection to doing so, since it was supposed to be only a couple of hours walk back to the Chateau. Still, one doesn’t like to be taken for granted, does one? The final leg of the journey home was uneventful, + tho’ fairly easy, aside from having to scramble down + up the banks of the numerous streams which cut across the path, rather boring, being mostly thro’ waist-high scrub. Still, we found it pretty tough, far more than we’d expected, + were relieved when the Chateau finally hove into sight.
We went straight to the pub, to purchase a pie + a pint (or half-pint each, anyway), + then spent the afternoon lazily, washing clothes, showering, sitting in the motorcamp kitchen. Much to our surprise, Mike turned up at about 5 or so, having charged all the way round the other side of the round the mountain trail in just one day. Val + I had already phoned to book ourselves a rafting trip for tomorrow, + he did the same. And then, after a meal, we all went off to the pub – that is Mike, Val, myself, + another Pom Mike had brought along, name of David. He was typical British public-school product, having a holiday out here before, surprise, surprise, going home to join the army. And not as a private, I think. We were also joined by an Aussie, who, for a change, had a very nice line in self-mockery. And a good evening was had by all. The place was a typical Kiwi pub, that is, horrific, a big barren booze barn, but it’s the company that makes the evening, + after a couple of jugs each, we were all getting on fine, talking in a mildly drunken manner, + having that conversation, the one I must have had a dozen or more times, telling one’s favourite comedy sketches. We finally left at 10.20 or so, after giving + taking a bit of stick with the staff, + then someone had the foolish idea of popping in to the Chateau for a nightcap. Fortunately, the Chateau were well-prepared for such an eventuality, + had 2 guys in dress suits stationed at the door. “Can we help you?” they asked. They couldn’t, of course. + knew it, + lost no time in telling us so. So we went home to bed.
And so the end of our first NZ trail, which had proved excellent. But the civilising effects of a pie and a pint were welcome all the same, as was a night in the pub. Clearly we are experiencing a quasi-English lifestyle – the food, the language, the culture – but with definite added pluses – the scenery, the walking, the huts.