Day 2 was a gorgeous trek through the mountaintops, made all the more beautiful by the continuing good weather. After 18.6km and a seriously steep descent through more rainforest – but this time a rainforest filled with babbling brooks, squawking birds and wonderful waterfalls – I arrived at the next hut, Iris Burn, in time for lunch. This points out one of the delights of easy tracks like the Kepler; the scheduled time for a day's walk is normally five to six hours, but as with most DOC times, I ended up doing them in about three to four hours, so even with a lie in I'd make it to the next hut for lunch, leaving ample time for exploration.
Iris Burn sits in the big glacial valley through which the Iris Burn River flows, and just down from the hut is a powerful waterfall that's created a clear swimming hole that would be perfect if the water wasn't so cold; I went in up to my knees before realising that I couldn't feel my toes any more. The ferocious sandflies were also a bit too hungry for my taste, so I headed back to the hut, where the night culminated in a search for a kiwi, led by the hut warden's husband, but without success; we did, however, get to see lots of glow worms lighting up the forest canopy like the night sky.