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.
Joe Eagles led a group of four New Zealand Army fourth-year carpentry apprentices – Cory Loynes, Andrew Solomona, Jake Barnes, and Hosea Taripo – and tells the story: ‘We were tasked with a descent-sized refurbishment of Otukota Hut. So on the 7 October, the five of us headed for the hills.
Day 1: 5.30 a.m. start. The helicopter lifted all the supplies from the Mokai Road end and on the way dropped a woodburner and related hardware to Colenso Hut. Sent two guys to Otukota to start demolishing the old water-tank stand and deck, while three of us fitted the woodburner at Colenso. By lunchtime we regrouped at Otukota to carry on for the rest of the day. 8.30 p.m. finish.
Day 2: 7.30 a.m. start. Between rain showers, replaced the roof (which included a new ply ceiling) completed the water-tank stand and started digging holes for the woodshed. 8.30 p.m. finish.
Day 3: 7.45 a.m. start. Beautiful day. We got all the outside wall prep complete, then replaced both windows with new double-glazed ones. The boys dug more holes for the meat safe and deck, then poured the concrete. Water-tank in place.
Day 4: 6.00 a.m. start. So much to do, and only one day. Made a ‘to do’ list on a piece of ply. We took on a separate job each and progressively ticked them off through the day: plumb in water-tank, finish deck, refurb toilet, install meat safe, complete woodshed, spouting and architraves around windows …. Then pack up ready to be helicoptered out tomorrow. 9.15 p.m. finish.
Day 5: 8 a.m. start. Massive breakfast, eating everything left over. Packed up all our remaining items and prepared to move out. Spent a cool time taking photos with a lot of laughs and talking about how proud we were of the massive amount of mahi we gave.
Huge satisfaction gained that – in a small way – we were helping preserve a piece of New Zealand’s backcountry heritage. The chopper arrived and we said goodbye to Otukota.