A Wet Night at Homer Hut – Part 1

“On a Mish” #243 A Wet Night at Homer Hut – Part One. Fiordland National Park. 19.12.2015. The power of Fiordland rain will only be understood once you have seen it. More than likely it’s heavier than any rain you have seen before. The amount of water that can fall in a short space of time really does boggle the mind. After spending some time working in Fiordland I grew to really appreciate how awesome a good storm can be. Sometimes when guiding I would come across debris that is so far from the river you simply don’t believe it was placed there by an angry Fiordland river in flood…

I was lucky to have the opportunity to accompany my girlfriend for a few days at Homer Hut while she worked as the hut’s volunteer warden. The hut, which is managed by NZAC, is the only hut of its kind located in the Darran Mountains. Other huts have been built amongst the giants in different places, and all except Homer Hut has been forcefully removed by Mother Nature. We drove along the Milford Road to the small car park which is also the starting point for the very impressive Gertrude Valley Track, and walked across the rough rocks of the dry riverbed on the road side of the hut. We were given a quick rundown from the warden we were replacing for the week about the hut’s facilities and rules. Unfortunately the hut’s radio was broken, so we were told that if there were any issues to head to the public phone at ‘The Chapel’ (Milford Road Works Managements Headquarters). Then we moved our gear into the very comfortable warden’s lodging which is attached to the hut. Although the hut was empty, the amount of gear in the hut meant we weren’t going to be alone for much longer. Above Fiordland the sky was painting a picture of a rain-soaked future, a constant feature in the mountains of Fiordland.

Ominous clouds in the Gertrude Valley

During the evening the silence of the empty hut was replaced by a large group of climbers from New Caledonia / France, and their guide from Aspiring Guides. They had been climbing around the Gertrude Valley and planned to head to Mt Aspiring National Park the next day for an attempt at Tititea / Mt Aspiring(3033m). The drizzle turned to rain as we collected the koha for using the hut. About an hour later we were invited to join the group for some wine (magnums of wine from France) and cheese (very high quality imported from France). And I must say, now that I have tried proper French Camembert, I really understand why European people do not like New Zealand’s attempt at the tasty treat. The night was full of stories and laughter – some of which were a mix of English, French and drunk dribble. It was very entertaining, and along with a very enjoyable climb, the fellas were now experiencing proper Fiordland rain. I was asked if we should be wary of the rain, and my response was “it hasn’t started to rain yet”. Words that would come back to haunt me in the morning. Heavy rain smashed the hut all night long and into the next day. This caused the dry riverbed near the hut to become a raging torrent. The rain had also flooded both sides of the car park, leaving the vehicles stuck on an island

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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