Do you believe in ghosts?

Ever had an encounter?

We were sceptics.

Until …

The sky was still overcast for our departure from Mid Wairoa Hut.  Rain jackets were worn in readiness for being rained on.  It’s always a balance between not wanting to get drenched externally or becoming sopped internally under the jacket from one’s own perspiration.

I had swapped out BClaire’s panties for my own undies.  A chaffing decision!

We had decided the evening before to walk with Jane and Pip on this next section to Top Wairoa Hut together because of the trail notes.

“The track from Mid Wairoa Hut follows the river.  It involves a lot of sidling, at times on steep terrain, and eight river crossings.  In some areas, erosion on the track present slippery and/or narrow footholds and extreme care should be taken through here.  Some trampers will find this section challenging.  It should not be attempted during periods of heavy rain as the river can rise quickly.”

A photo of Heuy, Lewy and Dewey (the names I gave whilst taking the pictures) outside the hut before departure.  They were pissing themselves with laughter as they took their first steps into the bush undergrowth where Iain from IT had disappeared into yesterday.  Not at Iain’s expense, but at mine.  BClaire thought it funny to call me Poohy from my personal situation at some ungodly early hours of the morning.  So, there we were, Heuy, Lewy, Dewey and Poohy.  I wasn’t laughing.

Heuy, Lewy & Dewey.
Technical sidling.

By the time they reached the first sidling, they weren’t neither.  And the trail notes weren’t kidding about narrowness where clutching onto embankment and leaning in was just a matter of slow as you go.  This was the approach each and every time.

Jackets came off as bursts of the sun’s rays filtered through the canopy.  The flora and fauna looked crisp and sharp, and it was just beautiful.  Ya gotta love this country for its diversity.

The first river crossing was just like the approach to the sidling’s, taking it slow as you go.  It’s a great way to build up confidence through being careful about foot placement, balance, and supporting one another ford the river flow safely.  There was only one of the crossings that we had to lift shorts up to nigh a wedgy because of the depth.

One of nine river crossings.
Navigating obstacles were all part and parcel of the route more travelled.

Everyone came to a stand still when a yell from the opposite bank was heard.  There were looks of “what the hell was that?” thinking someone had shouted out for help.  No body moved. The only sound was the river below.  Nor could we see anything from our position.


Shit.  It certainly echoed like someone was deliriously calling for help.  Jeez, we all thought it was Iain.  Again, we were trying to pinpoint where it had come from.

The third time, everyone shook their heads and started laughing.

A fkn goat was responsible for pumping up the heart rate.  And nearly causing a PLB to be set off for a helicopter extraction.  That is not what one wants to be remembered for – Search and Rescue coming to the rescue of a goat!  That we instigated.

But that wasn’t the ghostly encounter incident.

Arriving at the Top Wairoa Hut and reading the hut logbook to see Iain had made it was a relief.  He had had a fire as the smoky smell still lingered.  Another wander down to the river for the hut drinking water and because we still had daylight hours left, a body wash dip.  The temperature of the water doesn’t allow for one to muck around.  But it was welcomed.

Sophie from Brazil arrived.  She was walking the trail in the opposite direction and passed on a salutation from Iain to us.  Turns were taken sharing more conversations, everyone settled and turned in early.  Tomorrow was a longer distance that included a hump up and gradient down.

The hut toilet was some 20-30 metres back along the track.  A radiant orange colour with a magic view if one sits there with the door open contemplating life.  A deep sleep had me think I had dacked myself again so got up and under torch light, went to the toilet.  Nup, just a dream.  BClaire clambered down off the top bunk and exited the hut shortly after me to return and clamber back up. Time, about 1.30am in the early hours.

The hut door had a slide metal door handle.  You had to use a little force right to open and left to close.  From outside coming in, the opposite.

The noise of it being forced open, then shut, then open, then shut from the outside as if someone was entering the hut woke everyone up with a fright.  It was loud, forced and then nothing.  Pip asked the question, “what the hell was that?”.  We all had eyes on the door, expecting someone to walk through and no one did.  I ducked under my sleeping bag a little as I’m sure others did scared shitless.

“Brent, go check it out” came from a top bunk.

“Why me?” I responded.

“I’m a firm advocate for equality nowadays, women’s rights and all” I followed up with.

We all still laid there waiting.

Pip eventually did.

There was no one.

It wasn’t the wind.  And no way a goat or deer could have attempted to open and shut the metal door handle.  It had us completed baffled and certainly awake.

It was 4am.

Everyone tried to regain unconsciousness as best as they could until the streaks of morning light appeared.

It became a conversational topic time and time again over the remainder of the trail.

And still does today.

Perhaps a reason for such a ghostly encounter was evident at the next hut we walked to.

We are now believers.