Overnight walk to Manson-Nicholls Memorial Hut
This walk is described by Nick Groves in "South Island Weekend Tramps" (2003, Craig Potton Publishing) as "a good first tramp for enthusiastic children". Based on our experiences of the last couple of days, he's right.
A latish start saw the boy and I heading off from the Marble Hill campground at about 1330, he with a very light-looking 25 L pack, me with a very full, but not too heavy, load. After a brief look at the beautiful Maruia River flowing through the Sluice Box we set off. Easy walking through beech forest close to the Alfred River brought us to our first break after about an hour. Out with the scroggin, waterbottles and cameras. The scroggin was okay, but the Cadbury "brunch bars" got the thumbs down.
We carried on, with the crossing of various mud patches providing entertainment, the boy demonstrating an interesting technique of increasingly random foot placement as his momentum built in the course of each crossing, with the result of maximum mud accumulation on shoes, socks, and legs. Friendly/curious little grey/black birds added to the enjoyment. After a couple of hours the boy's steps were again becoming a bit random and it was time for a glucose hit to get him through the final hour. It was with some relief that the hut was sighted, a bit over three hours after we set off, and just in time to beat the showers that visited intermittently for the rest of the evening.
We were the sole occupants of the hut, but according to the logbook it had been pretty busy over the weekend before. After settling in we commenced battle with the sandflies. Dinner was a reasonable de-hy with an absolutely diabolical pudding for dessert. We used the long evening to explore a bit further around the lake, and as it got dark went eel-spotting on the jetty. eriodically I fielded questions about the lack of computers and television. Much of the rest of the night was spent reading while trying to avoid mosquitoes (next time I'm definitely taking a mosquito net).
We got off to an early start next day despite my relative lack of sleep due to the mosquito onslaught. The boy had the second-day blues - tired legs, pack not sitting right, etc, but still managed to get out in two and a half hours - the lure of the Hanmer Springs bakery was pretty strong! It was with a great sense of occasion that we crossed back over the Sluice Box and returned to the car. A seven-year-old's first overnight tramp is an experience to be savoured, and I highly recommend sharing this experience if you get the chance.