Bookings not required - first come, first served
Remove all rubbish and foodstuffs on departure.
This hut was built in 1958 and received some upgrades in 2003. The hut is sited in a small clearing on the edge of the mountain beech forest slopes above the upper Makino River. The hut position (1400 metres) can experience a wide range of climatic conditions, including brief snowfalls during cold southerly weather, strong to gale westerly winds and heavy winter frosts. An enclosed wood-burning stove warms the hut.
Ballard Hut is at the foot of a large scree slope, 500 metres downhill from the open sub-alpine tops. The hut was located here for New Zealand Forest Service deer culler convenience. It is close to a small creek and is not located next to a main tramping route.
During hut erection in 1958, hut materials were dropped in by fixed wing aircraft. The pilot was later killed in a flying accident and the hut was named after him.
Ballard Hut is located 500 metres off the main tramping track at the north western end of the main Kaweka Range. The track to the hut does not continue beyond the hut. Ballard is a useful stop for those traversing the park on an east to west route after negotiating the main range from Makahu Saddle carpark (4 – 5 hours).
From Ballard Hut, a 2 hour tramp across the Ballard/Venison Tops Saddle will allow a fit tramper to reach Tira Lodge. From Tira Lodge, trampers can walk south to the Ngaruroro River and Rocks Ahead Hut (1.5 – 2.5 hours) or north to the Mangaturutu Tops and Hut (1.5 – 2 hours).
Trampers are reminded that all travel into Ballard Hut is via a marked/poled track which traverses open Kaweka sub-alpine tops at 1500/1600 metres. Caution should be exercised during adverse weather conditions. Sudden periods of poor visibility, high winds and very cold conditions can happen any time of the year here.
Before you go, buy 1 Standard Hut Ticket (blue for adults, yellow for youth) for each night's stay. Put this in the honesty box at the hut. Or buy a Backcountry Hut Pass that gives unlimited use at most Standard and Serviced huts for a 6 or 12 month period.
The helipad is located approximately 30 metres uphill from the hut. Flight availability and costs can be obtained from helicopter concessionaires in the central North Island.
Nearest road accesses are available at Makahu Saddle, Middle Hill or the Makino road end carparks.
From Makahu Road, a marked track climbs south west to reach Middle Hill Hut (980m) after approximately 2.5 hr. The track then leads up to Whetu (1650 metres ), traversing the open tops by poled route. Ballard Hut is reached after 3 to 3.5 hours.
From Makahu Saddle a marked tracked climbs steeply up to Kaweka ‘J’ and then traverses the main range to Whetu and onto Ballard Hut (4 – 5 hours). Care is required when accessing these poled routes and they are recommended for experienced and well-equipped trampers and hunters. These routes should not be attempted in deteriorating weather conditions. Wind speeds in excess of 180 kmh have been recorded here.
A walk into Makino Hut (2.5 hours) continuing to meet the Ballard track junction (3/4 hour) then climbing steadily towards Whetu at the northern end of the main Kaweka Range. Turn right at the sign to reach Ballard Hut after another 2 hours.
NZTopo50 map sheet: BJ37
Grid/NZTM2000 coordinates: E1890855, N5651398