Date: 17 March 2021
Located in the deepest part of the Waioeka Conservation Area on the banks of a stream, the remote 56-year-old hut has long been a popular spot for trampers and hunters. The hut is available for public use and reaching it involves a multi-day tramp with several river crossings.
Department of Conservation (DOC) East Coast Biodiversity Ranger Jamie Quirk says the maintenance and repair work focused on retaining Kahunui’s historic features and allowing the hut to remain in perpetuity, rather than having to replace it.
“These upgrades will ensure Kahunui will be available to show future generations the beauty and simplicity of a bygone era.”
Items such as iron, timber and tools were dropped into the remote site by helicopter, along with supplies to keep four DOC rangers going for five days.
Jamie Quirk says the hut was built in 1965 by the New Zealand Forest Service for the purpose of deer control. Built to the standard floorplan of the time, it has a number of features that are unique today.
“It still has a built-in lockable food locker and a lobby area for storing firewood, raincoats and boots.
“Kahunui’s most special feature is an unusual three-tier bunk, with the middle tier hinged so it can angle out of the way and allow for seating or more space on the bottom bunk if the hut isn’t fully occupied. The top bunk is close to the ceiling and quite possibly would have been reserved for trainees.
“It has retained its original ‘safety orange’ colour and the number on the roof – 1878 – that was used to identify the hut from the air. Finally, it also still has its open fireplace, also known as ‘poor man’s television’.”
The forest and streams around Kahunui feature spectacular towering podocarp forests, with whio, morepork and kākā all making themselves known to visitors. The track to the hut is a side track off the main Koranga Tawa loop, a 2–3 day hike for advanced trampers.
Kahunui Hut, and others like it, is an example of a range of places that DOC manages to tell stories of our unique cultural heritage.
Managed on behalf of all New Zealanders by DOC and others such as the Back Country Trust, New Zealand’s network of around 950 huts is world class and a unique piece of heritage in itself.
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