Ruahine Forest Park, Manawatū – 17-19 May 2022
The 8-bunk Leon Kinvig Hut lies in the mid-reaches of the Pohangina River, right in the centre of Ruahine whio country. Originally built by the New Zealand Forest Service in 1963-4, the hut was named after a young deer culler Leon Kinvig, who was drowned in the Pohangina River. Recently a team of Backcountry Trust team funded by Kaimahi for Nature, and led by Joe Eagles, braved autumn weather to upgrade the hut, including the installation of a new wood-burner.
Kahurangi National Park, West Coast – 3-8 April 2022
The Mōkihikui River North Branch drains a huge chunk of country south of the Wangapeka Track, in what is now the southwestern corner of our second largest national park. It’s a place of complex topography, riven by past earthquakes, and huge extents of forest, threaded by many different tributaries. One of these is the Johnson, and in its lower reaches lies the remote and rarely visited Johnson Hut.
In April 2022, a team led by Tim Marshall treated this lovely wee 4-bunker to a very timely spruce-up. The work was funded by Kaimahi for Nature, and orchestrated by the Backcountry Trust’s northern South Island manager Ollie Clifton.
Rakiura National Park, Rakiura / Stewart Island – April 2022
Doughboy Bay Hut is the southernmost shelter on the Southern Circuit of Rakiura. Nestled in the forest among the Southern rātā, rimu, flax and crown fern, the hut offers shelter for trampers tackling the circuit, or hunters in pursuit of the island’s whitetail deer. The existing hut has been on site for nearly 20 years, when the old Long Harry Hut was shifted to replace a dilapidated bivvy and tent camp.
Like other huts in Rakiura National Park, Doughboy Bay Hut needed attention, and in April 2022 a Backcountry Trust team and DOC rangers set to the task, with funding from Kaimahi for Nature.
Old Ghost Road, Kahurangi National Park, West Coast – March 2022
Located on the popular Old Ghost Road track, Goat Creek Hut oozes history. The small hut lies on a river terrace near the confluence of Goat Creek with the Mōkihinui River South Branch. It was one of a group of huts built in the mid-1950s by staff from the Nelson Conservancy of the New Zealand Forest Service, using materials dropped out of a plane. It was an early experimental hut design for wild animal culling purposes.
Wangapeka Track, Kahurangi National Park – March 2022
What’s harder than building a new hut in the backcountry? Relocating an existing one.
Years of speculation, multiple geotech reports, months of planning, and now weeks of effort have resulted in a new location for Belltown Mananui Hut, in the Little Wanganui Valley. Thanks to funding from Kaimahi for Nature, an Ultimate Descents team led by Tim Marshall completed this epic hut relocation in March. Now the hut is better, warmer and more appealing than ever.
Kahurangi National Park, West Coast – March 2022
Some huts hold appeal simply because of their remoteness, others for their history. Kākāpo Hut can lay claim to being remote and historically important. The 4-bunk hut is one of the early deer-culling huts developed by the Forest Service in Nelson as a trial using helicopters to transport materials in (rather than parachuting in loads from planes). It was built in 1958, along with others in Northwest Nelson including McConchies, Karamea Bend and Luna (Kākāpo and McConchies are the only two which still remain as public huts). The trial proved successful and helped usher in the helicopter era of building huts.
Ruahine Forest Park, Hawke’s Bay – 21-24 February 2022
The Ruahine Range isn’t known for its precious metals, but perhaps gold of a different sort lent its name to Gold Creek. Gold Creek Hut is a tidy four-bunker located in the mid-reaches of Gold Creek, a tributary of the Makarora River. It’s reached either on a track on a bush ridge above the valley, or up the creek itself. Built in 1958, it was one of the first standard S81 huts to be erected by the Forest Service in the Ruahine Range.
Like many other Ruahine huts, Gold Creek Hut needed some attention, and thanks to a grant from the Kaimahi for Nature Fund, it got a great tidy-up in February. Joe Eagles led the KFN team of four, which included Corey Loynes, Vince Marsiglia and Tyrell Hillman.
Joe tells the story.
Dart Valley, Mt Aspiring National Park, Otago – February 2022
The February 2020 floods created significant infrastructure damage in the southern part of Mt Aspiring National Park and the northern part of Fiordland National Park. One of the bridges washed away was located at a critical ford of the Dart River at Daleys Flat. This swingbridge provided essential access to the Barrier Ranger for parties accessing Seal Col and the Margaret Glacier, one of the important routes in and out of the Olivine Wilderness Area.
Mt Richmond Forest Park – February 2022
The 16-bunk Rocks Hut sits perched on the Bryant Range, literally just up the hill from downtown Nelson. The current version (erected by the New Zealand Forest Service in 1983-4) is the third hut on site, with two earlier versions built by the Nelson Tramping Club.
Ruahine Forest Park, Rangitikei – 7-11 October 2021
Otukota Hut lies on the lower flanks of the Mokai Patea Range, set in a clearing below the junction of the Waikamaka and Maropea Rivers. A standard S70, ex-NZFS hut, it was built in the 1970s?, and badly needed some work. The BCT’s Megan Dimozantos organised an excellent crew, who completed the work in October 2021, with welcome funding from the Kaimahi for Nature (KFN) programme.
Ahaura Valley, West Coast – January 2022
Cone Creek Hut is one of those gems, infrequently visited, but well worth the effort – even more so right now, after generous ‘Kaimahi for Nature’ funding enabled a cracker team to restore the hut.
Whareroa Farm, Kapiti, Wellington - December 2021
Wellington is well-known as a MTBing Mecca, and the Kapiti Coast is no exception. In recent years, The Kapiti MTB Club (KMBC) has been active building new mountain-bike tracks in Whareroa Farm on the Kapiti Coast side of the Akatarawa Forest, with funding support from the Backcountry Trust and the Kaimahi for Nature Fund (KFN).
In 2020, stage one work on a track provisionally called ‘Track 2’ was begun, and late in 2021, the track was informally opened to riders.
Victoria Forest Park, West Coast – November 2021
The Big River area (near the West Coast town of Reefton) is rich in gold-mining history, and offers a wide variety of opportunities for 4WDing, mountain-biking, horse-riding and of course tramping. Notable among these are the tracks in the Big River-Waiuta area.
Waiuta was a mining town that saw mining activity as late as the 1950s, while during the Big River era (1882-1942) as many as 100 people worked the vicinity. A track connecting the two was recently upgraded through a Jobs for Nature project.
Two weeks of fine weather in November allowed a team of Greymouth DOC staff and Backcountry Trust contractors to polish off a long-standing bit of much-needed track work. This was one of those frustrating projects that had suffered weather delays so many times that the original start date is lost in the mists of time.
So it was with huge relief and satisfaction that David Deck from DOC and Tim Marshall from Ultimate Descents got their respective crews on the ground. Thanks to some sharp chopper work from Airwest Helicopters, and quick turnarounds from the ground crew, roughly twice the volume of gravel was laid as anticipated.
Fixing this particular track to a good, usable standard will benefit a multitude of different user groups.
Thanks to the Jobs for Nature funding, the DOC staff and BCT contractors, another great joint project is complete – more to come soon!
Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island – November & December 2021
Yankee River Hut, situated beside a tidal estuary alongside the Yankee River, is one of the older huts on Rakiura’s North West Circuit. The hut is an example of a larger NZFS design, built primarily for recreation, and it has 12 bunks in two rooms. The other remaining one on the North West Circuit is Big Bungaree Hut. DOC is trying to retain both these facilities as historic to preserve their character.
Another example is the Kiwi Burn Hut in the Mavora Valley, adjacent to Fiordland.
In March 2021, an inspection revealed that Yankee River Hut needed some serious attention. Working with DOC Rakiura staff, the Backcountry Trust developed a two-stage plan to upgrade the hut.
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.