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  Field Notes From

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From Author

Kennedy Warne

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Annie Griffiths Belt

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Rob Morris (top) and William L. Allen


Field Notes From Author
Kennedy Warne
Food always seems more memorable when eaten after a long hike or a day on the open sea. Among my gastronomic recollections from Fiordland: Beef-and-mutton sausages from the butcher at Tuatapere, sausage capital of New Zealand. Abalone fritters and battered trumpeter aboard the motor launch Renown. Wild venison kebabs at Martins Bay Lodge. Chamomile tea (made with melted snow) and a carrot atop Gertrude Saddle. And, wherever I went, coffee brewed in my ancient aluminum espresso pot. Even though it added two pounds to my pack, just imagining the tubercular coughing and spluttering it makes as the thick brew comes through put wings on my tired feet. As I picked decaying stoat carcasses out of traps with Department of Conservation predator-control workers, I realized that even in this place that New Zealanders think of as a lost world “nature’s sanctum sanctorum” the claws and teeth of foreign invaders are whittling away the native flora and fauna. The “sixth extinction” is happening here just as it is around the globe. Sadly, Fiordland is too big—and the New Zealand economy too small—to do anything beyond preserving selected portions of this amazing place. Whenever I stay in a backcountry hut, I make sure I read the hut book to see who has gone that way before me, and what inspired scribblings they may have left behind. Usually the entries are commonplace, but once in a while I find a real beauty such as this one from the Pyke River hut on the Hollyford Track:

“It rained and rained and rained— The average fall was well maintained.
And when the tracks were simply bogs,
It started raining cats and dogs.
After a drought of half an hour
We had a most refreshing shower; And then the most curious thing of all:
A gentle rain began to fall.
Next day also was fairly dry,
Save for a deluge from the sky,
Which wetted the party to the skin,
And after that the rain set in!”

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