Introduction

New life has been breathed into the old backcountry hut at the head of the Timaru River Valley near Wanaka.

New life has been breathed into the old backcountry hut at the head of the Timaru River Valley near Wanaka. 

Built in 1962 as a forestry hut, the Top Timaru Hut in the Hawea Conservation Park sat in a dark gorge on the opposite side of the river to the walking track. The hut is a popular base for hunters though with the arrival of the Te Araroa Walkway through the valley it is now a stopover for trampers as well.

Last month staff relocated the hut to the opposite side of the river to avoid the need for visitors to cross the river in swollen conditions and to capture the all day sun.  The hut is now clad in coloursteel to blend into the tussock setting with the renovation also including an increase in sleeping capacity from 4 to 6 and a covered porch.

“For those who can remember the early tin huts built by the forest service, the new hut will be something special to see. It’s had a significant makeover and, in this ideal location, should be around for another 20 years,” said Paul Hellebrekers, Area Manager Wanaka. 

Te Araroa Trust South Island Project Manager Michael Pullar said, “The hut’s relocation and upgrade was a welcome effort on a trail section that is a Te Araroa highlight.”

“The Trust has received great support from Department of Conservation the length of the country and the contribution from staff in the Wanaka area has been enthusiastic” said Michael. “They have gone above and beyond to deliver tracks and a hut system worthy of this spectacular region.“

The full track is 54 km long and is a 3 to 4-day tramp from Birchwood Road in the north, to Timaru River Road on the shores of Lake Hawea. The track includes the Breast Hill section opened in March this year.

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