Makahu saddle hut
Image: Siiri Wilkening | ©
Makahu Saddle Hut is located in the mid-eastern area of the Kaweka Forest Park, 5 minutes walk from the end of Kaweka Road (Makahu Saddle carpark). The hut is sited at 980 metres altitude between the Makahu Stream/Mohaka River catchment to the north and the Donald River/Tutaekuri River catchment to the south.
The saddle can experience strong to gale force north west winds or very cold southerly changes that produce high levels of precipitation including snow over the winter months.
Built in 1957 as a trial to the subsequent development of the NZFS SF70 Huts design, this hut has been maintained to reflect its original construction. The original open-style fireplace also remains. Please replace firewood used.
The hut is reached after 5 minutes walk from the Kaweka Roadend carpark.
Makahu Saddle is ideally located for a day, weekend or the start of an extended tramp. Options are available to travel in any direction.
Middle Hill Hut, to the north, can be reached in 3 hours via Kaweka Flats Bivouac (1 hour). Trampers can make a semi-circular trip from Middle Hill and out to Makahu Road as an “over-nighter” with suitable transportation arranged for drop-off and pick-up.
Four kilometres before Makahu Saddle a short road turns off Kaweka Road and leads to Little's Clearing. A track which is mainly used for hunting access leads from the loop walk on to Black Birch Range. Black Birch Bivouac is 1.5 hours along the range.
Kuripapango Road, to the south, can be reached via Mackintosh Hut after 5 to 5.5 hours.
Trampers can make a circular trip via Back Ridge down to Rocks Ahead (allow 3 hours from Back Ridge Hut to Rocks Ahead Hut). From Rocks Ahead trampers can either cross to the Ngaruroro River to the “Manson Country” or head north. If heading north, a climb up to Tira Lodge (Venison Tops) can take trampers back across the Ballard Saddle to return via the main Kaweka Range to Makahu Saddle or access Middle Hill Hut from Whetu at the northern end of the main range.
There are many tramping options via Back Ridge which can also include travelling south to Kiwi Mouth Hut to travel onto the southern park areas and the Napier-Taihape road accesses. Trampers are reminded that a number of the tracks in and out of the Back Ridge area are via poled routes traversing open Kaweka sub-alpine tops between 1300 to 1700 metres altitude. Caution may be required during adverse weather conditions. Wind speeds exceeding 180 kmh are not uncommon over the main tops, along with extremely cold conditions at any time of the year.
NZTopo50 map sheet: BJ37
Grid/NZTM2000 coordinates: E1893932, N5645844
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.