Aorangi Forest Park, Wairarapa – January 2022
Tauanui is one of a handful of huts in the Wairarapa’s Aorangi Range. Located a couple of hours by foot or bike up the Tauanui River from the nearest road end, the 6-bunk hut gets fair amount of use and – unfortunately – abuse. Happily, a group of Backcountry Trust volunteers gave the hut some much-needed attention in January 2022.
A team of New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association members from Porirua, led by Graeme Blanchard, had been chipping away at it, making repairs to the floor by the fireplace, and other basic maintenance. But they needed some support. So the Backcountry Trust’s Megan Dimozantos introduced Graeme to Sally Neal.
In less than a year Sally has tackled three BCT volunteer projects, and quickly developed a reputation for getting the job done.
This successful pairing resulted in a team consisting of Graham Blanchard, Sally Neal, Jaymi Singson, Wayan Singson and Will Ferris getting stuck in over the summer. They gave the hut a full paint, including the internal walls and ceiling, external walls and the roof. Being a traditional New Zealand Forest Service S70 hut (built in 1966), Tauanui has been returned to its original colour orange scheme. The team also cleared vegetation away from the hut using a scrub-bar, completing quite a transformation.
Some additional work remains: the chimney, window and the alcove floor all need attention. The BCT hopes to fund this work in the near future. In the meantime, Tauanui Hut is looking pretty sharp!
Megan writes: ‘I'm a firm believer that by showing a hut is well-cared for, and by the community banding together and showing it respect, we can protect these huts from mistreatment. Stellar effort from the crew: thank you!’
Sally Neal provided the photos.