Hut warden applications are closed for the summer 2023/24 season. Applications for the summer 2024/25 season will open in October.

Volunteer hut wardens help out at two spectacular locations not far from Christchurch City. This year's hut wardens are volunteering at Packhorse Hut and Ōtamahua Hut.


The hut warden season begins in November and runs through to the end of March.


This is an exciting opportunity to spend 4 days or longer at either one or both of our idyllic locations based within a one hour drive of the main city centre.

Hut wardens work a split shift, carrying out cleaning and hut duties in the morning. The role is then very visitor focused in the afternoon and evening, welcoming trampers to the hut. Hut wardens are welcome to spend the middle of the day exploring their surroundings.

Compliance is also carried out in the evening. You will ensure that trampers have bookings or hut tickets and are familiar with hut etiquette.

Packhorse Hut

Location: Banks Peninsula. This is part of the Te Ara Pātaka walkway

Features: 9 bunks, serviced, separate warden’s hut. Handheld radio provided.

Access: 1–3 hour walk from the Kaituna Valley. For longer stays, such as 1 week or more, supplies might be transported to the hut if compatible with DOC's work programme.

More about Packhorse Hut

Ōtamahua Hut

Location: Ōtamahua/Quail Island – Lyttleton Harbour

Features: 12 bunks, serviced, separate warden’s quarters. Handheld radio provided, and area has cell phone reception.

Access: Via the Lyttelton – Quail Island ferry service by Black Cat Cruises. A five-minute walk from the Ōtamahua/Quail Island jetty to the Caretaker’s Cottage, Ōtamahua/Quail Island Hut.

More about Ōtamahua Hut


The primary role of a hut warden is to add value to the visitor experience and make our visitors feel welcome.

You'll be expected to:

  • ensure all hut users have booked or have hut tickets if not fully booked
  • clean and maintain hut, toilets and surroundings
  • provide information to visitors including the weather forecast
  • inform guests of hut etiquette and our Visit the Kiwi Way programme
  • maintain contact with DOC staff  – a daily phone schedule will be carried out
  • notify DOC office of any maintenance required at the huts.

What to expect

Accommodation and facilities

You will stay in private staff quarters.

At Packhorse Hut, some cooking facilities, including cooker and gas, are provided for your use. The Packhorse Hut warden's hut is located downhill on the Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere side.

The Ōtamahua Hut has private warden’s quarters at the rear of the building.


You need to supply your own food.


You'll need your own transport to reach the start point.

Packhorse Hut

Take SH75 to Kaituna Valley Road. Turn left into Parkinsons Road around 6 km up the valley. Park near the road end where the track starts. This offers much more secure parking than Gebbies Pass.

Ōtamahua Hut

You'll need to take the ferry from Lyttelton with Black Cats Cruises to the island – your fare is covered by us.


You must have sufficient tramping experience. Overnight, multiple day backcountry experience is essential.

You must be familiar with the New Zealand backcountry and must be capable of walking four hours a day with a heavy pack.

You'll need to be fully equipped. Any previous hut wardening experience will be an advantage.

Public facing roles need to go through a screening process and require a safety check.

Age restrictions

You must be at least 18 years old.

Other skills required

You need to be fluent in English and be able to relate to a range of people in a friendly and informative manner.

What to bring

You'll need to bring your own:

  • food
  • cookware (Ōtamahua Hut only)
  • good quality tramping pack
  • strong tramping boots
  • waterproof jacket
  • warm clothing
  • down sleeping bag
  • sunhat
  • torch, camera, or book
  • personal toiletries and medication
  • water bottle.

What we'll provide you

We'll supply you with:

  • safety equipment – first aid kit, personal locator beacon (Packhorse Hut only)
  • DOC volunteer badge
  • induction and training for this position
  • USB charging facilities in both wardens quarters.

How to apply

Check back in October 2024 when applications for the 2024/25 season will open.

This is a very popular volunteer opportunity. We can not guarantee applicants will be selected for the dates that you prefer. All wardens are required to be police vetted.

Safety checks

Everyone who applies for this position is subject to a DOC safety check and Ministry of Justice criminal record check. Information about these checks will be provided after you apply.

What happens after you apply

  1. All applications will be shortlisted by matching to role availability.
  2. We’ll send the shortlisted applicants the safety check form for you to complete.
  3. We’ll contact you about an interview time – the interview will be with a DOC staff member and it’s also an opportunity for you to ask questions about the role.
  4. We’ll talk to your referees.
  5. We’ll request a Ministry of Justice criminal record check – this takes around three days.
  6. DOC staff will assess all the material provided and decide on suitability.
  7. Once approved we will work with you to find dates that suit you and complete your induction.


If you have further questions contact:

Mahaanui/Sockburn Office community team

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