Ferny Gair Conservation Area, Marlborough – December 2022
Lake Alexander is a rare example of a lake in the Marlborough backcountry. The attractive bush-surrounded lake lies near the headwaters of the Tummil River, in the Waihopai Valley, southwest of Renwick. Near the lake is Lake Alexander Hut, a standard six-bunk Forest Service design. Built in 1965, and originally called Tummil Hut, it was relocated to its present site in 2010.
Simon Wayatt from the Marlborough Branch of the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association (NZDA) has been undertaking some excellent work in the area, with support from DOC ranger Ray Bennett. In December 2022, Simon flew into Lake Alexander Hut with fellow NZDA member Paula Carter. Their main mission was to install a new water-tank. Previously, hut occupants had to walk for some 10 minutes to get water.
Fiordland National Park, Southland – January 2023
Sprawling alpine lakes, granite tops and the stupendous Mt Irene: the location of Robin Saddle Hut certainly takes a lot of beating. Situated in the heart of Fiordland, at the very western extent of the Murchison Mountains, this is one of the remotest huts in the country, and also one of the hardest to reach. Now over 60 years old, the hut got a comprehensive upgrade by a New Zealand Alpine Club (NZAC) volunteer team led by Paul Maxim.
Ferny Gair Conservation Area, Marlborough – October 2022
Penk Hut lies in the headwaters of Marlborough’s Penk River, a significant tributary of the Awatere River. The standard 6-bunk ex-NZFS hut lies near the forks of two creeks that drain the high slopes of Ferny Gair (1670 metres). In October 2022, the hut got some overdue attention from Backcountry Trust volunteers led by hunter Simon Wyatt, with help from DOC ranger Ray Bennett. The rest of the volunteers, also keen hunters, included John Flannagan, Jock Flannagan, Matt Large and Paul Fuller.
Tararua Forest Park, Wairarapa – 6-10 September 2022
\Some guess Field, others think Cone, but no, the oldest hut in Tararua Forest Park is actually Sayer Hut.
Built in the early 1900s by the Sayer family, who used to run cattle on Tōtara Flats, this rustic hut has stood in place for more than century, albeit with many modifications over the decades. It was there when the Tararua Tramping Club formed; it was there when members of a missing tramping party wandered past, oblivious to the hut, in the infamous Sutch Search of 1933.
In a nice turn of history, members of the Sayer family recently did a marvellous job of re-cladding the hut, helped by a grant from the Backcountry Trust.