Mungo Hut is a standard NZFS S81 hut built in 1962 to replace an old Internal Affairs deer cullers hut built on the same site. It sits on a tussock bench at the headwaters of the Hokitika surrounded by cedar trees and is one of the huts on the West Coast that takes a bit of effort to get to.
By 2015, while still sound and generally tidy it was starting to look a little run down. Builder Eric Saggers, along with John Visser, Geoff Spearpoint, John Charles and Rob Brown flew in with a load of gear to renovate the hut. The building paper was well and truely gone and in places was hanging down in strips. A bungled wooden splashback near the cooking bench constituted something of a fire risk and the odd leak around the windows was starting to cause some issues. Even though the hunting is reportedly not much good there, the hut had long been a favorite spot for NZFS deer cullers. Location is everything. In the early 1980s Mungo Hut received its last major round of maintenance when the NZFS pulled out the old open fire (with chimney design that used to smoke alot) and replaced it with a new design that drew much more efficiently.
On day one John Visser and Rob got started on the prep for the outside paint, whole Eric and John Charles started work on the interior timber repairs. Geoff busied himself with the construction of a much needed woodshed for the hut. In what would become fairly standard practice for remote hut renovations over the next few years, a priority was put on getting the wet wood out of the foyers of the old NZFS huts where it was causing problems with rotting out the structure and into a proper woodshed. The second day was fine and sunny so it was all hands onto the job of getting the roof off, painted and prepared for reinstalling on fresh building paper.
Work continued over another two days as the hut was lined with ply, a new splash back to the bench installed, and most importantly a bookshelf was installed. Eric and John repaired the cupboard which had a couple of rotten studs while the others finished the exterior painting. Eric also strengthened up the rafter collar ties which were not adequate for a hut that gets snowfall in the winter. Geoff also got stuck in with the scrub bar to clear the main tracks down to the Mungo River.
The weather had been slowly deteriorating towards the end of the week and the last day was spent doing some final touches on the inside and sitting next to the fire listening to the rain on the roof. The weather lifted enough the following day for Andersons Helicopters to arrive and pull the crew and gear out leaving this magic spot in superb condition for those that choose to make the effort to make it into the headwaters of the Hokitika catchment.