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.
Joe Eagles filed this report. ‘Our team included Vince Masiglia, Tyrell Hillman, Shilon Pere, Shane Tebbett, Hamish Scott and myself. We thought we would aim for the forecast “weather window” to fly into Leon Kinvig Hut. Ha ha. The weather did not play the game, so we all headed back home and regrouped the next day at the Pohangina DOC Base.’
‘Early on Tuesday 17 May, Owen Harvey from Mid West Helicopters flew our gear and us into the hut in reasonable weather. However, by the time he’d finished, the weather packed in and by the last flight rain began to fall. We spent the rest of the day digging in piles for the woodshed, stripping the jut ceiling and prepping for a big day on Wednesday.’
‘Wednesday dawned beautiful. By 9:00 am the roof was off, the fireplace was demolished and the woodshed erected. A few guys spent the rest of the day putting new ceiling linings in and re-cladding the roof, doing flashings and ridges, while I installed the new fire hearth, fireproof surround, chimney and completed the flashings around the fire. A big day!’
‘Thursday dawned okay, but the red sky offered a warning. We had to make the call to try and get the work completed this day or risk being trapped by incoming weather. So we decided to push hard.’
‘By the end of our stay we had reroofed the hut, installed new ceiling linings, added the new fireplace, built the woodshed, removed the old woodshed cubby, secured loose cladding on the hut and resealed it, installed a new toilet base and seat, wiped the hut mattresses down and cut scrub around the hut clearing.
‘Leon Kinvig is a great little hut in the blue duck heartlands. Thanks to the BCT’s Megan Dimozantos for her support and patience behind the scenes, Owen from Mid West Helicopters – a true professional – and Demelza Low from Palmy DOC for local support and assistance with coordinating materials.’
‘Thankfully we did get out on Thursday,' Joe concluded. 'The weather didn’t clear for another three days.’
A Backcountry Trust team of volunteers will head in later in the year to paint the cladding, ensuring Leon Kinvig Hut will be in great condition for many years ahead. Get in there this winter to enjoy the new wood-burner!
UPDATE: Sadly, Cyclone Gabrielle in February 2023 took its toll, and the resulting flooding in the Pohangina Valley has damaged Leon Kinvig Hut as this picture shows.