An hour from the summit of Mt Kapakapanui, Kapakapanui Hut is located on a now well-marked circuit in the Tararua ranges, around 2-3 hours from the Ngatiawa roadend. It’s a great stopover when heading on to Renata Hut or even as an easy place to head for a night in the hills.
The NZDA Kapiti Branch had felt for sometime this hut was in need of a tidy up but was initially thinking of just patching up the rough bits and painting the interior. After a site visit to confirm the general condition of the hut for himself, Mike Briggs soon realised that the project was about to develop into a full restoration and reclad of the hut. After a second visit with builder Glen Botha, they both agreed to a more extensive Scope of Works to protect the long term future of the hut. A schedule of materials was drawn up and quotes obtained, and used to complete the application made to the Backcountry Trust for the September 2018 round of funding.
The project was underway by mid-February 2019, with the gear and supplies airlifted to site by Amalgamated Helicopters a few days beforehand. Mike and Glen were joined by Keith Robertson, John Trask, Paul and Michelle Pearson, Hayden Melles, Anton Williams, Andrew Tarr, Stuart Marshall, Brian Tandy and Mike Champion making their trek up to the hut for the first work party.
Work began on the Saturday morning of this first weekend, with lots of dirty demolition, old windows replaced with new ones, west and north cladding done, rotten framing in the south west corner replaced, linings removed and ply replaced and sealed, two coats of interior paint, a new meat safe installed, old cupboards removed, and the bunks moved aside in order for the wall and floor to be replaced and then the bunks were refitted by torch light around 9pm.
8 of the original 12 volunteers stayed on to continue work on Sunday, which saw the floor ply finished off, and the windows completed with the cladding surrounding them fitted. On the Monday, Mike and Glen remained and were joined by Richard Watson, who brought an angle grinder with him and enabled them to modify the stainless steel sink under the new window. All together they clocked up over 200 volunteer hours over the three days on this first weekend.
The second weekend saw a smaller group of 7, make the hike up the Kapakapanui track once again and replace the exterior wall cladding, and make a start on the interior ply linings. By the end of this trip they were onto the interior clear coat to the ceiling and the floor was re-coated in poly.
A third weekend of work saw a new roof installed by contractors, while volunteers removed the remaining cladding and old window from the eastern wall, installled some dwangs, secured the new iron, installed the remaining corner flashings, and tidied the site up, preparing a load of old materials and rubbish to be flown out at a later date.
A few volunteers have also taken a few further day trips up to Kapakapanui hut to complete track marking on the entire loop and finish painting the exterior, complete the final bit of flashing fitting, and carry out a last check after over 300 volunteer hours, to ensure the hut was once again ready to shelter the various trampers, hunters and mountain runners that like to visit this stunning location.