Tararua Forest Park, Horowhenua – November, December 2021 & March 2022
South Ōhau Hut provides crucial shelter at one of the gateways into Tararua Forest Park: the Ōhau River. With access to Ōtaki Forks now severely restricted, this access is more important than ever.
The 10-bunk South Ōhau Hut was built in 2008 by DOC, as part of its new generation of huts. The comfortable, modern hut has served well, but recent had unfortunately suffered significant vandalism. In December 2022, Manawatū volunteers Jean Garman and Steve Wilman led a team in to do some work, which was funded by the Backcountry Trust.
Here’s a summary from the BCT's Te Ika a Māui / North Island manager Megan Dimozantos: ‘Some less-than-intelligent individual had shot holes in the roof (possible while trying to shoot a possum), causing significant leaking and damage to the internal linings. (News flash: if you shoot holes in the roof of a hut, it will leak and make it an unpleasant place to stay for you and everyone else).’
‘The hut also it needed re-painting and other general repairs. To get the ball rolling, a three-strong team of Jenny McCarthy, Adam Matich and Jean Garman walked in on 3-4 November 2021 to cut back the vegetation around the hut, wash the hut interior with bleach, and sprayed the woodshed and exterior with mould remover.'
With that important preparation done, a more significant work party set to task over 18-23 December. Steve led the work on the roof while Jean led the paint work. The roofing team replaced 13 of the 20 sheets of roofing iron (please excuse the slightly off colour match ... they had been on site for a while). They swept the chimney, prepped and got a good amount of the external painting and the woodshed done (with the rest of the exterior completed in February).’
‘Inside, the hut was mouldy from the leaking roof. Fortunately, the team were able to salvage the lining (it took two trips to treat the mould to stop it returning) and gave it a fresh lick of paint, so it’s looking sharp now.’
‘The gutters and toilet got a clean, vegetation was cleared around the hut, a non-slip mesh added to the deck, and a bit of drainage work and “paving” done. All this will make a big difference given the location of the hut against a slope.’
‘And as if that wasn't enough, the team also killed a couple of possums, and Steve shot a stag to fill the freezer. Stellar effort from this crew!’
In 7-10 March, Jenny McCarthy, Ivan Reinks and Jean Garman walked back in to complete the remaining work. This included prepping and painting the barge boards, finishing off painting the woodshed, and painting the trim around the windows and door.