The next hut from Mokihinui Forks is only an hour or so down the trail, so we had planned an expedition without packs to explore the North Branch of the river.
This necessitated several river-crossings, which was a relatively serious undertaking due to the strong current and thigh-deep water. The four of us crossed in a line with our arms around each other’s waists, the two guys with sticks at each end. Then we shuffled slowly forward, making sure that at least most of us had a firm footing at all times.
There was also plenty of wandering up sandy side-streams, a bit of pushing through long grass, and even a bit of bush-bashing through a section of beech forest. Because it was a hot day, we enjoyed a couple of swims when we came across deep pools.
We ate lunch in the shade at the top of the valley, then set of back to the hut to pick up our packs and continue on down the trail. It seemed like no time at all before we rounded a corner and arrived at the new Specimen Point Hut. This is probably the most spectacular site of all, perched high on a cliff overlooking the gorge. We had a four bed sleep-out booked at this hut as well, but we spent most of our time in the main hut enjoying the view.
Felicity and I strolled down the trail for a few hundred metres and swam in a pretty pool on Specimen Creek, just above the old ford. A new flash suspension bridge further downstream protects the route from flooding.