Lake Manapouri, Fiordland National Park, Southland – February 2022
Located at the mouth of the Freeman Burn, on the shores of beautiful Lake Manapōuri, Freeman Burn Hut has long served as a haven for boaties, kayakers, trampers, hunters and tourists. The historic hut was first built over the summer of 1928–29 by tourism pioneer Les Murrell, who had an ambitious plan to establish a tourist trail to Bradshaw Sound.
Today, the hut stands as solitary monument to Murrell’s efforts. The passage of nearly a century had however taken its toll. Vandals had also done significant damage, many of the piles needed replacing, and the windows were rotten. Additionally, the original hut structure had many deficiencies, including inadequate framing, and even most of what did exist was badly out of plumb.
Clearly the hut needed work, but how much of the old structure could be retained, and how much needed replacing? These were questions that tested consultant Simon Brackstone and Backcountry Trust manager Rob Brown during a recent rebuild/restoration of the hut. Keen members of the Southern Lakes branch of the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association carried out the work. Here’s the story, and more about the hut’s unusual origins.
First, a tale of two Les’s.