Kaimanawa Forest Park February 2021
As one of only four public huts in Kaimanawa Forest Park, Cascade Hut serves a vital function as shelter for trampers and hunters visiting this part of the central North Island. Located at the junction of the Tauranga Taupo and Kaipo Rivers, the 6-bunk hut takes its name from the nearby rapids. It’s reached on a track through bush from Clements Mill Road, which takes 6-8 hours.
The existing Cascade Hut is the second on site, built by DOC in the 1990s to replace an earlier Forest Service one. However, by 2020 the hut was showing its age and needed some serious attention. Fortunately a proposal to the BCT by Mike Main to help with the costs of restoration was successful. Mike, a member of the Sika Foundation and New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association in Taupo, consulted with DOC. The plan was to strip off the hut’s old cladding, roof, deck and verandah, and replace the lot.
Mike gathered a group of willing helpers, who included Aaron Brebner, Alex Giesen, Ron Lenzen, Anton Stokman and Tessa the dog. Ferrying in all the materials, gear and people took four trips in the Helisika Squirrel on 19 February 2021.
The team lost no time, and removed the old veranda, deck and roof before lunch. In the afternoon, they installed sheets of pre-painted ply. The old shadow cladding, building paper and rodent-chewed batts came off next.
In the hot summer weather, such intense effort proved hot work, so after tools were downed each day, the team plunged into the nearby river. Not just content with working all day, Aaron managed to shoot a deer too.
Hunting, swimming and preparing dinner were the order of the evening, although as Mike commented ‘Not sure if Ron was out there to shoot deer or just sit and look at the whio’.
Day three involved removing the watertank, and the rest of the old cladding. The team also added new nogs, and replaced a dodgy foundation post. Just to add to the tasks, the lads also began building a new woodshed, which was soon deemed good enough to sleep in. With windows put back in, iron cladding affixed, the hut was starting to shape up pretty well.
A slow start to the final day was testimony to the frenetic pace of the previous three. The main task was cleaning up and preparing the rubbish for flying out, which included three loads.
Mike writes: ‘I would like to thank the team for making a supreme effort to get the job completed well within the time frame and to a very high standard. Thank you to Helisika for being very efficient … and also to Megan from the BCT who assisted us with the paperwork … and gear list. The whole job could not have got off the ground without DOC Taupo being involved and thanks Murray for the colour scheme.’