The much-loved Flora Hut in Kahurangi National Park is warmer and looking fresh after a spruce up by the Nelson Tramping Club.
The hut, a short walk from the Graham Valley Road end, is popular for overnight stays for families with young children and as a rest-stop on day trips.
Nelson Tramping Club members have repainted the outside of the hut, put in some wall and ceiling lining for better insulation, lined the woodshed, replaced rusty chimney gutters and installed firebricks in the fireplaces.
Nelson Tramping Club at Flora Hut
The work has been done in liaison with the Department of Conservation and was carried out in four weekend working bees from late February with the most recent one, last weekend (April 11-12). The club’s work on the hut will continue next summer.
The club received a $6500 grant for materials and other costs for the Flora Hut work from the New Zealand Outdoor Recreation Consortium. The grant came from $700,000 allocated from the government Community Conservation Partnership Fund to the consortium last year to help maintain and enhance backcountry huts and tracks on conservation land.
Nelson Tramping Club President Lawrie Halkett said Flora Hut had been the first hut the club had stayed overnight in about 80 years ago.
“Our club took on maintenance of Flora Hut as a memorial project for an active club member, Ruth Hesslyn, who died in an accident in Kahurangi National Park in March 2012. The first work we then did was in 2013, renovating the roof
"In addition to undertaking this work in the memory of Ruth, it has been wonderful for the club to put something back into the mountain-lands of New Zealand from which as trampers we have gained so much challenge, enjoyment and satisfaction.
"The club over its 80 plus years existence has had volunteer work involvement in five huts in the region, and through Flora Hut we aim to continue this tradition."
DOC Motueka senior ranger Tom Young said the Nelson Tramping Club’s work on the hut was impressive.
“We hugely appreciate the Nelson Tramping Club’s work to look after Flora Hut which has provided shelter for many people over decades. The club members were keen and capable volunteers and their work has been done to a high standard.
”Flora Hut is distinctive for its two separate bunkrooms with open fireplaces and chimneys at each end of the hut. A hut of this design was first built at the Flora Clearing site in 1927 by the then Mt Balloon Scenic Reserve Board to encourage outdoor recreation in the area. In 1982, the then Forest Service built a replica 12-bunk hut on the site keeping to the same basic design.
Tom Young said improvements to Flora Hut aimed to retain its original rustic character.