Tararua Forest Park, Wairarapa – March 2022
Carkeek Hut lies in the heart of the Tararua Ranges, and can be regarded as the most remote hut in the forest park. The six-bunk occupies a ridge-top position on the 6-bunk Carkeek Ridge, high above the headwaters of the rugged Waiohine River. It recently got a makeover by members of the ex-NZFS team, using funding from the Backcountry Trust.
Originally built as a standard S70 deer-culling hut by the New Zealand Forest Service in 1962, the hut has provided important shelter for many decades. The Victoria University of Wellington Tramping Club (VUWTC) has long had an interest in the hut, with their members sporadically maintaining it. One of the club’s traditions is a ‘Carkeek Picnic’ – getting to the hut over the course of a demanding weekend. More recently, however, the hut became beyond the capacity of the VUWTC to maintain it. Happily, John McCann, of ex-NZFS, signed a management agreement with DOC to look after it, and in February 2022 he sent two of his hard working team in to do some much-needed work on the hut.
-The team included tramper Mike Wilkinson, Mike’s mate Bill van Woekom, and ex-culler Andy Jarvis.
At home in the Wairarapa, McCann had already degreased the new Coloursteel roofing iron, primed it, and given it three coats of ‘DOC Rescue Orange’. This colour, McCann explains, is the authentic original colour used by the Forest Service for its culling huts, ensuring the structures were clearly visible from the air and for those on foot.
In February, Wilkinson, van Woekom and Jarvis flew in by helicopter, re-roofed the hut, and temporarily fixed a leaking aluminium window (which will be replaced by an authentic replica of an original window in the near future).
Now with a new roof, Carkeek is once again ready for the next ‘picnickers’.
Thanks to the hard-working field team, and to John McCann for much behind-the-scenes organisation. The ex-NZFS team now maintains some 16 huts in the Tararua and Aorangi Ranges, and aims to ensure huts from the NZFS deer-culling era have a long life ahead.