At a number of DOC-managed heritage sites you can learn about New Zealanders long-time connection to outdoor recreation and tourism.

The birthplace of international tourism in New Zealand was the Pink and White Terraces at Rotomahana, near Rotorua. Nothing in the world compared to these, (except, perhaps, the volcanic terraces at Pamukkale in Turkey) and their total destruction by the Tarawera volcanic eruption of 1886 was a major loss.

Surviving this setback, New Zealand tourism continued to slowly develop as an adventure destination with a ‘clean and green, exciting but safe’ marketing theme which endures as our key point of difference.

 A significant development was the establishment of the Tourism Department in 1901. A world-first, in terms of a government agency, promoting a country as a destination and integrated package. For decades the Tourism Department lead the way in product development and promotion, essentially based around Rotorua, Tongariro, Mt Cook, Queenstown and Milford Sound, setting a pattern that remains to this day.

Tourism and recreation by New Zealanders was constrained only by transport. Initially sea access was popular for day trips. Mansion House is a representative of this era. The development of railways made a huge difference, and excursion and picnic trains played a significant role in introducing New Zealanders to the outdoors. Day trip trains to Caroline Bay and Arthur’s Pass illustrate this era.

But it was the motor car and country bus services that freed New Zealanders to pursue outdoor recreation and experience the backcountry. A parallel development was beach culture, the summer holiday at the bach (or crib in the lower South Island), with a similar growth in baches by rivers and lakes. The Rangitoto Island baches illustrate this trend. Popular recreation encompassed every activity including walking, swimming, cycling, boating, climbing, skiing, hunting, fishing, and nature appreciation.

A strong link developed between people enjoying the outdoors and seeking its protection. The Camp House represents this linkage. New Zealanders formed themselves into clubs to develop recreation opportunities, with tramping clubs, the huts they built and their ‘working bees’ as an example. Field Hut, the first built by a club, represents this aspect of outdoors social history.

The sites that DOC manages under this theme are:



Bay of Plenty

East Coast/Hawke’s Bay

  • Kuripapango Hotel remains, 1889
  • McCahon Mural, Aniwaniwa, 1976


  • Chateau Tongariro, Tongariro National Park, 1929
  • Fergusson Cottage, Tongariro National Park, 1925
  • Glacier Hut, Tongariro National Park, 1923
  • Stanfields Whare, Kaimanawa Forest Park, 1959
  • Tokaanu Wharf, Lake Taupo, 1880
  • Waihohonu Hut, Tongariro National Park, 1904


  • Ambury Memorial, Mt Taranaki, 1925
  • Camphouse, North Egmont Visitor Centre, 1899
  • Dawson Falls Visitor Centre, Climbing Equipment, 1930 onwards
  • Downes Hut, Whanganui River, 1920
  • North Egmont Visitor Centre, Climbing Artefacts, 1930 onwards
  • Rahiri Cottage, Mt Taranaki, 1929


West Coast

  • Almer Hut, Franz Josef, 1950
  • Callery Bridge, Roberts Point Track, 1900
  • Cape Defiance Hut, Franz Josef Visitor Centre, 1912
  • Chancellor Hut, Fox Glacier, 1931
  • Douglas Bridge, Douglas Walk, 1900
  • Fox River Footbridge, Fox Glacier Walk, 1929
  • Hende's Gallery, Roberts Point Track, 1907
  • Hende's Hut, Roberts Point Track, 1907
  • Welcome Flat Bridge, Copland Track, 1918


  • Alpine Memorial, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, 1917
  • Back Basins Hut, Waimakariri, 1957
  • Bealey Spur Hut, Waimakariri, 1925
  • Coronation Hill Historic Reserve, Sign of the Kiwi, 1917 (Not AMHP, Administered by ChCh City Council)
  • Dasler Biv, Twizel, 1966
  • First Ball Hut site, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, 1891
  • First "Hermitage" Site, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, 1884
  • First "Hermitage" site Trees, Aoraki/Mount Cook National, 1884
  • Hooker Hut, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, 1910
  • Jacks Hut, Waimakariri, 1890
  • Locke Stream (No 4) Hut, Arthur’s Pass National Park, 1939
  • Number Three Hut, Lake Sumner Conservation Park, 1939
  • “Pilgrims Way” Track, Godley Head Reserve, 1906
  • Red Hut, Hopkins Valley, Twizel, 1916
  • Sawyer Stream Hydro Power Scheme, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, 1925
  • Sefton Bivouac, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, 1917
  • Sign of the Packhorse Hut, Sign of the Packhorse Scenic Reserve, 1916
  • Urquhart’s Hut, Waimakariri, 1933
  • Wakefield Track, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, 1905
  • West Harper Hut, Waimakariri, 1957


  • Cleddau Horse Bridge, Grave Talbot Track, 1932
  • Freeman Burn Hut, Lake Manapouri, 1935
  • Hollyford Bakers Oven, Milford Road1935
  • Homer Tunnel Portal Avalanche Damage, Milford Road, 1937
  • Omanui/McKinnon Pass Memorial, Milford Track, 1915
  • Marian Corner Construction Camp, Milford Road, 1935
  • Marian Hill Rock Cutting, Milford Road, 1935
  • Sandfly Point Brick Chimney, Milford Track, 1920
  • Tutuko Suspension Bridge, Milford Road, 1940
  • Ulva Island Tourism/Nature Reserve, 1872
  • Upper Hollyford Hydro Station, 1936
  • Walker Creek Saw Pit , Milford Road, 1935

Further reading

Willems, Hans. (2004). North Island Back Country Huts. Updated and reprinted. Auckland: Halcyon Press.

Willems, Hans. (2000). South Island Back Country Huts. Updated and reprinted. Auckland: Halcyon Press.

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