Rakiura National Park, Stewart island – November 2021
East Ruggedy Hut is one of the best-situated huts on Rakiura’s famous Northwest Circuit. This 8-10 day trip offers sometimes challenging tramping in bush, along coastlines, and with a healthy dose of old-fashioned mud. Rewards include the rare chance to tramp for days along a rugged, natural coastline, to appreciate the bush and coastal birds, and the pleasure of staying at some of best coastal huts in the country. East Ruggedy Hut is set back from the dunes of East Ruggedy Beach, against a backdrop of gnarled rimu. However, as for many other huts along the circuit, local rangers have struggled to find the funds for regular maintenance of the facility. Happily, Kaimahi for Nature (Jobs for Nature) funding came available through a Backcountry Trust-generated application, and November was the time for some hard mahi on site.
Kahurangi National Park – November 2021
The BCT Golden Bay track team hit the hills again, teaming up with DOC staff to do the four-yearly scub-cut and windfall run on the Anatoki–Waingaro Track. Both neighbouring track sections have been cut in the last two years, so completing this work will bring the whole circuit up to a consistent standard.
Abel Tasman National Park, Golden Bay, September–October 2021
The Wainui Track follows the Pikikirunga Range in the interior of Abel Tasman National Park, beginning from Birds Clearing at the end of Bird Road, and climbing through forest past Wainui Hut to Wainui Saddle and Canaan Downs. Thanks to a keen group of willing local bushwhackers, funded by a Kaimahi for Nature grant, the Wainui Track got the ‘proverbial short back and sides’ recently, as the team reported:
Ruataniwha Conservation Park, Canterbury – September 2021
One of the more beautiful valleys on the eastern side of Kā Tiritiri o te Moana / the Southern Alps is the Huxley, a major tributary of the Hopkins River, near Lake Ōhau.
On a pleasant, open grassy flat at the junction of the two main branches is Huxley Forks, with two huts. The first (smaller) hut was built for deer cullers in 1955. The New Zealand Forest Service built a second hut at Huxley Forks Hut in 1970, sometimes known as the ‘main Huxley Forks Hut’ (8 bunks). Just over 10 years ago, DOC did a major renovation of the exterior, but unfortunately the funding was unavailable to finish the interior.
Rakiura National Park – March 2021
Big Hellfire and Long Harry are huts located on Rakiura’s Northwest Circuit, a week-long plus tramping track around the coastline of this part of Stewart Island.
Late in March 2021, BCT contractors Clint Jarvis and Paul Chinn worked with DOC ranger Andrew King and volunteers from the Winton Rotary Club to carry out work on both these huts. The work was funded by a Kaimahi for Nature grant.
Whanganui National Park – May 2021
Few of our country’s tracks have as long a history as the Matemateāonga Walkway. Crossing from the rugged hill country of eastern Taranaki, the 42km track traverses the Matemateāonga Range to end on the banks of the Whanganui River. For centuries the area has been used and traversed by Māori, who developed the first track along the range. Then, during the early part of the twentieth century, attempts were made to develop a dray road between Stratford and Raetihi, and to open the area for farming. World War One interrupted, but some progress continued until the 1930s Depression saw farming and roading in the area largely abandoned. During the 1970s and 1980s, the old road route was developed into a tramping track as part of the walkways movement, when most of the existing 4 huts were also built. In 1986 much of the track became part of Whanganui National Park.
Nelson Lakes National Park – March 2021
Occupying a fine basin on the Travers Range, Cupola Hut is arguably the best situated hut in Nelson Lakes National Park. The hut offers a spectacular view of Mt Hopeless to the north, while a short distance above the hut, the dominant dome of Mt Cupola fills the horizon. The hut is reached on a good track from the Travers Valley, and has bunk space for 8. Mountaineers often use it as a base to climb the surrounding peaks, while trampers most often visit as side-trip from the Travers Valley. Recently, the hut got a makeover in a combined effort by the Ultimate Descents team and DOC, funded by Kaimahi for Nature.
Ruahine Forest Park, Hawke’s Bay – February 2021
In late February, the BCT sent local builder, Joe Eagles, and his team of two into Hinerua Hut. This job was funded using Kaimahi for Nature (KFN), a programme designed to keep people in work on jobs involving our conservation estate and its care.
Matakitaki and D’Urville Valleys, Nelson Lakes National Park
Lees Creek, Upper Wairau River Area
Fyfe Track, Kahurangi National Park
Last year the Backcountry Trust engaged Hiking NZ, whose guides had lost most of their work due to Covid-19 tourism downturn, to undertake several much-needed track maintenance projects in the Nelson conservancy. Funding came from the Government’s Kaimahi for Nature programme.
Upper Wairau River Area, Marlborough – December 2020
Built in the early 1960s as one of the early Nelson versions of the S70 NZFS hut designs, Begley Hut lies in one of the idyllic, rarely visited valleys off the Rainbow Road adjacent to Nelson Lakes National Park.
Upper Wairau River Area, Marlborough – March 2021
Because of it spectacular location on open flats with views of the surrounding Raglan Ranges, a visit to Lees Creek Hut is definitely worth putting on your bucket list. The comfortable 4-bunk hut is reached on a fairy gentle 4-5-hour walk up Lees Creek, a tributary of the upper Wairau River, accessible on the Rainbow Road, off SH63, near St Arnaud.
Kahurangi National Park, December 2020
In 2014, Cyclone Ita badly damaged the western side of the Wangapeka Track, causing significant windfall and slips. At the time there was insufficient funding to fix the track, so it was downgraded to ‘route’ status west of Wangapeka Saddle.
Nelson Lakes National Park, September 2020
Anyone who has visited Bobs Hut usually develops quite an affection for the place, not just because of the spectacular location, but also for the historic nature of the hut. Bobs Hut nestles against beech forest, at the edge of an extensive river flat in the West Matakitaki Valley, while above rise the summits of the Spenser Mountains and Mt Maling. Facing north, Bobs get a considerable amount of sun, adding to its appeal.
Nelson Lakes National Park, August–September 2020
Flanked by the snowy heights of the Spenser Mountains on one side, and the rippling waters of the Matakitaki River on the other, East Matakitaki Hut is one of the most attractive destinations in Nelson Lakes National Park.
Recently, a team led by Tim Marshall of Ultimate Descents did a fabulous job of restoring the ex-Forest Service Hut. Built in 1960–61, the six-bunk S70 hut was in fairly solid condition, but a failed roof underlay was causing problems with condensation. Removing lead nails from the old roof was also a high priority, as lead-poisoning poses a considerable risk for the local kea population.