We went into Magdalen Hut on the first day, then up the stream there by the hut (Maritana stream) then up a spur to an outlying range of the Opera Range. There was a tonne of deer sign around and deer trails all over the place when we were going up the stream and very few hunters in the hut book.
We traversed the entire range and I was pleased to see a wee tarn up there. It would have been a nice spot to camp and a dead fallen tree nearby so plenty of firewood if needed. But we carried on and went down a scrubby spur. It was the absolute pits. Never been down such a nasty scrubby spur. We were already stuffed and had to part this nasty scrubby stunted manuka to get through it. Even worse were the fist to head-sized round boulders underneath. As soon as I set foot on them, I started falling over! We had to hang on to the manuka bushes. I had my ice axe in one hand and the walking pole in the other and kept hooking them up or trapping my tools in surrounding manuka bushes and having to free them every few metres.
After we got to the bottom by now in the dark, we forded 2 streams and then went looking for a way up on to the terrace through even denser scrub. I had to make like a pig and crawl through it. Frank advised me to just head up through it but would you believe I actually had a wee rest on the track going up to the hut but failed to investigate this level opening in the vegetation! Unfortunately! But we got there to the hut at 10pm...It was a nice old hut and Frank got the fire going while I cooked tea. My air mattress had developed a bloody leak but there were mattresses on old canvas bunks there. It was in reasonable nick - Jervois Hut.
The next day we went down the track...there was a picture on the wall of where it starts from near the hut and I recognised the point where we'd intersected it on the way up. We then went up a forested spur back on to the ridge we'd been on the night before and going up that was initially bloody hard work too with the regen. We were pretty buggered. Then we travelled along the range to a point where the plan was to take a spur down to a 4WD track near Tin Jug Hut. Frank got nervous when he saw the craggy gendarmes on the spur but I was sure that there would be easy terrain on the other side of it that we couldn't see so said I'd go for a look-see. Once I saw there was an animal trail, I knew the animals were coming and going along this spur so it wouldn't be a problem and it wasn't.
Thank god that was a very easy spur to go down with no bloody regen or scrub in the way. We hit the 4WD track right where we planned and camped as the hut is private and Frank is "petrified" of getting trespassed by Glenhope station if we were caught on their land. We went and had a look at the hut the next day but Frank kept his distance though I went down and had a proper look at it. Sometimes kayakers, MTBers and horse trekkers pay to stay there. There used to be an old pack track leading towards Steyning Hut nearby but I couldn't see the start of it so figure it must be overgrown from lack of use.
Then we walked towards Steyning Hut and Frank and I kept our distance and merely took a photo of it from 100 metres away. This hut belongs to DoC but it was built 10 metres or so from the DoC/Glenhope boundary so Glenhope have commandeered it for their paying clients and keep it locked (apparently). DoC recently made muttering noises about shifting it back onto their land. It would be an easy thing to do and there are precedents e.g. McKenzie Hut in the Hurunui and Poulter Hut is to be shifted next autumn down to the Casey about 8km downriver.
Then we walked on conservation land all the way up the Magdalen Valley which is very attractive. Of course the cows come on to the DoC land and trample the beech seedlings and shit in the streams. However we saw 2 newly born calves. The mothers scarpered when they heard us coming! We took shortcuts through the bush to clearings in our direction of travel and there were deer trails and sign everywhere. As much as I've ever seen. No helicopter hunting here. Then we took a final shortcut through the forest to Maritana Stream and followed it down to the hut. We recognised a pair of huge red beech trees we'd seen going up the stream a few days before. All good fun. You could just pick a deer trail going roughly in the direction you needed to go and follow it and transfer to another trail if it was no longer heading where you needed to go. Frank was using his GPS to check the direction of travel but a compass bearing would have done it too.
The next day was very hot - the hottest day since April so we took it slowly going out. Frank had run out of lunch so we shared mine as I had plenty to share. When we got to the car it was like an oven so I had to wear my tramping shirt and a sarong of my silk sleeping sheet as my clothes were too warm. We had the air conditioning cranked up most of the way home.