Angelus Hut is sited adjacent to Rotomaninitua/Lake Angelus. At 1,650 m altitude, snow, frost and freezing winds can occur even in midsummer. The alpine pond or tarns in winter are as hard as the surrounding rock topography frozen solid.

Avalanche signs in red didn’t deter us reaching the Cascade Track junction. We bid farewell to Julia and Ryan as they were heading deeper on the flatlands as our noses pointed toward the up.

The steady climb beside the Hukere Stream was beautiful. As we emerged from forest to alpine grasses, flowers welcomed us with the buzz of life from bumble bees tendering their crop. Do bumble bees hibernate during winter?

Then the only path to go was straight up. Literally. About four football fields, give or take!

We could have been ascending Mount Kilimanjaru in East Africa or Gokyo Ri in Nepal except we weren’t. We were in our Aotearoa and the slow pace to absorb what is ours shifted mindset over matter to keep going and not give up.

The final brow to reveal Lake Angelus Hut and it’s adjacent reflection, stunning.

It took about 4.5 hours; the hut that accommodates 28 was full this night with fellow humans from all parts of the planet. You have to book in advance and there were some who braved the minus 6 degree celcius overnight temperature under canvas. Young ones today, pfft!

The arrival of the hut wardens was a pleasant surprise. We had met Prue and Malcolm at a hut that they were hut wardens at on Stewart Island a couple of Christmas’s ago so the chit chat catch up was like picking up the conversation as if it were only yesterday. Roughing it like we were does that.

Watching the shadows colour the opposite crater rim can be described best as how the lake was previously known as – Rangimarie.

Translated, it means ‘peaceful’.

Ya gotta love this country.