Honora had been away for two weeks. We both had our own reasons to go for a walk to Packhorse Hut in the bleakest weather of the winter in 2001.
A powerful southerly storm buffeted us as we drove out past Lake Ellesmere to the Kaituna valley. Squalls of sleet chased us up the valley to the carpark. We were alone on our mission.
We took off quickly up the track. The manuka and kowhai trees lunged about in the wind as we passed through, but they gave us some shelter from its chill. Not so, higher up, on the open spur. The wind tore round us, lashing us with sleet, and bent us over.
Our heads were down, our hoods pulled tight, as we rushed over the saddle to the the hut.
It felt warm inside. Of course it wasn't. But we soon had hot drinks and food to warm us up.
Packhorse Hut on a bleak winter's day
It was a good place to be, standing at the window looking out at the bleak scene. Low clouds stormed across Lyttelton Harbour in squalls, shutting out the view completely. I just watched the swirling tussocks instead.
A sleety squall lashes Lyttelton Harbour,. The tussocks are briefly stilled outside Packhorse Hut
We stayed at Packhorse Hut until the wonderful winter wildness had wrought its magic and recharged our spirit.
The walk back down to the valley had the bitter wind in our faces but it no longer felt a challenge. We couldn't have this sublime day taken from us now.