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March 2022 Issue
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Memorable nights

A memorable night atop Mt Ruapehu. Photo: Alistair Hall

I enjoyed reading Shaun Barnett’s story in this issue ‘Nights to remember’ where he recounts the nights he’s spent in huts or tents that have left a lasting impression. It certainly brought back a few of my own memorable nights in the wilderness.

There was the trip to Pahautea Hut in Pirongia Forest Park which started with our group splitting up for some inconceivable reason to walk in by different routes. What do you know? My group got lost (at the trailhead!) and spent eight hours battling it out to the hut. The night was made memorable by the fact someone carried in a cask of wine and playing cards and the arduous tramp was relived over and again in ever greater tellings. There were a few sore heads for the walk out.

It’s not the only time I was, shall we say, geographically challenged. My scariest night involved sheltering beneath rocks during a snowstorm on an alpine pass in the Spanish Pyrenees. I had no clue where I was and had spent the afternoon literally wandering in circles. My sleeping bag became so waterlogged I struggled to carry it out. But that experience, more than any other, taught me that I could persevere and get through. I was tougher and more capable than I’d previously given myself credit for.

Much more fun one winter was another alpine night, this time camping on the Summit Plateau of Mt Ruapehu with a good friend. Watching the sun edge below the horizon, setting the sky on fire and silhouetting Taranaki Maunga while perched on the highest peak in the North Island is a memory that doesn’t leave you.

Meeting hunters at Freds Camp Hut on Rakiura as they unloaded the water taxi with box after box of beer was interesting. They were friendly and shared in their bounty of supplies, but the graphic hunting stories they shared as the night wore on left me with the impression they were doing their best to shock this city slicker. 

After reading Shaun’s story, why not share your own memorable nights (email me: We’ve all had them.