Tararua Forest Park, Wairarapa – February 2022
Located on a pleasant flat in the mid reaches of the Waingawa River, Mitre Flats Hut serves as shelter for trampers, hunters and anglers alike. Above rises the steep track to Pukeamoamo / Mitre, at 1571 metres highest peak in the Tararua Ranges.
The current Mitre Flats Hut was built in 1988 by the Department of Conservation, in conjunction with the Masterton Tramping Club. It replaced earlier versions built by Wairarapa tramping clubs. At 14 bunks, it’s a reasonably large hut, with plenty of good camping nearby too. The hut is most often reached on the Barra Track, which takes 4-5 hours from the Upper Waingawa Road.
Now nearly 35 years old, Mitre Flats Hut was due for a revamp, and in February got one thanks to the efforts of volunteers funded by the Backcountry Trust. Steve Wilman led the project, and provided the details for this summary.
The team included: Ivan Rienks (roofer, painter), Adam Matich (painter, 110 % attention to detail), Jenny McCarthy, (pocket rocket, muck-in no matter the job), Jean Garman (painting team ruler of the roost), Tina Christie (camera person, general dogsbody and pudding queen), Yan Quesnel (roofer and cutter who left it all out on the hill), Stephen Jennings (roofer) and Steve Wilman.
Day one: The team was picked up at Chris Tait’s farm, and it took seven loads to helicopter all the gear and materials in – with about 700 kg of roofing iron alone. We pulled the spouting off, installed edge protection, and started stripping the old roof iron off. Jean’s painting crew began erecting scaffolding and stripping the large southern wall.
Day two: We carried on stripping the old roof, while the paint crew continued to prepare surfaces. A new window was installed in the warden’s quarters.
Day three: The painting crew started on the top coats. All of the gable end cladding was rotten, so needed removing. Luckily the woodshed cladding was sound, so we used that to replace the gable end. The roofers started work on the flashings, but with temperatures on the roof about 35°C, it was punishing. Ivan had to leave, so walked out.
Day four: We had hoped to finish by four o’clock, but a forecast for high winds in the afternoon meant we had to evacuate Yan out by chopper with suspected heat stroke, accompanied by Steve. Fortunately, the painting team were happy to finish up and walk out down the river later. They spring-cleaned inside, including the windows.
Day five: The woodshed roof was finished while Tina touched up paint and tidied up all the roofing iron. The toilet was rebuilt and painted by Tina. With all the job’s done the remaining crew began packing loads ready to fly out the following day.
Day six. With the final pack-up completed, the remaining volunteers managed a Nana nap before flying out in the afternoon. Job done: Mitre Flats Hut is looking good, and so's the loo.