Lying just a 20-minute drive from Rotorua, the 14.5km Western Okataina Track is a Grade 3 mountain-bike ride, with a side-trail to a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the city and Mt Tarawera.
Ruahine Forest Park, January 2021
Shutes Hut lies in the northern Ruahine Range, set on a terrace above the Taruarau Valley. Very unusually for the North Island, the hut is built of stone, and owes its existence to the pioneering days when plucky musterers tried to farm sheep in this tough mountain country.
Alex Shute worked as a rabbiter for Poporangi Station, and in 1920 he built the hut with E. Smith, using local stone. Shute lived there for many years, and was quite a character. Now more than a century old, Shutes Hut is one of the most venerable shelters remaining in the North Island from this pastoral period. These days, the hut remains a welcome haven for hunters, fishers and trampers. On 16-18 January 2021, a team of three BCT volunteers – Jason Cheetham, Lennart Prinzre and Sam Warren – painted Shutes Hut, giving it a pleasing change from orange to red.
Mataketake Range, West Coast
The new Mataketake Hut boats one of the country’s best locations; undulating tussock tops with sparkling alpine tarns, views along the Southern Alps as far as Aoraki, as well as vistas over the wild coastlines of South Westland.
This superb hut owes its existence to the late Andy Dennis (1944–2016), a well-known conservationist, writer and tramper who had a passion for South Westland. In his will, Andy bequeathed funds for a new hut.
Backcountry Manager Rob Brown, a friend of Andy’s, spearheaded the hut project, in consultation with Andy’s sister Sarah Dennis and DOC staff. The Backcountry Trust helped top-up funding.