Date: 12 July 2019
The most popular hut in the Tararua Ranges has been rebuilt and is back open for business after a small opening ceremony today.
A group of trampers, locals, and Department of Conservation (DOC) staff gathered below the hut at midday today to officially open the modernised iconic hut for the thousands of trampers who walk the Powell-Jumbo circuit every year.
The new hut, says DOC Wairarapa Operations Manager Kathy Houkamau, has been built to meet the needs of modern users and to make the most of the spectacular views of the Wairarapa Valley from 1200m.
“We’ve designed it for what today’s trampers are looking for,” says Kathy Houkamau. “Over 800 users helped advise us on what they wanted in a hut, and we’ve invested time and resources to provide that.
“The overwhelming response from people was, don’t move it. Users value the panoramic views of Wairarapa more than anything else, so we have tripled the size of the deck, provided seating and partially covered it.
“People also wanted more privacy for sleeping, so the new hut has four separate bunk rooms as opposed to one large sleeping area, with a total of 32 bunks.”
This iconic hut comes with a history. The original Powell Hut was built in 1939 by the Hutt Valley Tramping Club, who rebuilt it in 1981. This burnt down in 1999, and a third hut was built in 2000. In November last year, the hut was closed as it suffered from weather tightness problems that weakened the overall structure.
“The new hut has been designed to withstand extreme weather. There are still a few cosmetic jobs to complete, but we wanted to get the hut open as soon as it was safe to use,” says Kathy Houkamau.
“However, no one should take the trip to Powell Hut lightly. The weather changes quickly and people need to be prepared for wet, cold and windy conditions with limited visibility on any day of the year, regardless of season.
“It’s exciting to have finally opened the doors to the new hut. We’d like to thank everyone who has been very patient with the closure and hope they enjoy the new experience.”
DOC Volunteer Hut Warden Brett Gillies of Tawa will be amongst the first wave of people to experience the new facilities. He attended the opening before hiking up to the hut – which has been fully booked out for its inaugural weekend.
“I’m looking forward to sharing the hut’s legacy with everyone that stays over the weekend,” says Mr Gillies.
People can book the hut online - $15 for adults and $7.50 for children per night.
Powell Hut is the most popular hut in Tararua Forest Park with over 3000 bed-nights a year.
Located just above the bushline, the stunning vistas are a fitting reward for those who complete the 1200 metre climb up through the surrounding native beech forest.
The iconic huts that have graced this site have been a beacon to tired and weary trampers for almost 80 years.
Powell Hut is one of the overnight stays on the Powell-Jumbo Circuit, which is a popular two-night stay, three-day walk, for people wanting to have an easily accessible weekend in the outdoors.
Powell Hut was closed in November 2018 to be demolished and rebuilt on the same site. Engineers had found it was no longer safe in extremely high winds (180kmh plus) or heavy snow loadings.
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