We’d meant to get to the Liverpool or French Ridge huts as the finale to a five-day mission that connected Rees Saddle, Cascade Saddle, and the Matukituki back in February. But a storm of epic proportions confined us to the Aspiring hut for an extra day, thwarting our grand plans to spend our last night at the head of that heavenly valley.
I’ve been searching for wild in New Zealand, with its unsettling lack of charismatic megafauna and its astonishing number of people marching through the backcountry. New Zealand is such a benign country in so many ways, and benign is not a word I associate with wild. I struggled to feel the wild on my first backcountry forays here.