Venison Tops Hut
Image: John Mason | Creative Commons
The single expanse of alpine tops where Tira Lodge is located provides panoramic views of the Kaweka Forest Park and beyond to the Kaimanawa Forest Park and Tongariro National Park.
Tira Lodge is located in the central Kawekas in the area locally known as Venison Tops.
Built in 1969 this hut is of larger construction to the standard huts common throughout the park. The hut is located at the northern edge of the open sub-alpine adjoining the mountain beech forest. Due to its altitude (1430 metres) the area experiences a wide range of climatic conditions which can include brief snowfalls during cold southerly weather and strong north westerly winds.
The helipad is located 40 metres from the hut. Flight availability and costs can be obtained from helicopter concessionaires in the central North Island.
There are 3 ways to reach Tira Lodge. Times are approximate. Road access is available at Makahu Saddle, Middle Hill or the Makino road end carparks.
The track begins a short distance after Makahu Road enters the park where it climbs to a saddle. It is from this point that the track leaves the road. The track leads to Makino Hut (3 hours) and continues on to Mangaturutu Hut (a further 4 hours) via the Makino River. From Mangaturutu Hut it is a 2 hour walk to Tira Lodge.
Travel to the Middle Hill carpark and then proceed up the Mangatutunui Stream before ascending a ridge to Middle Hill Hut (2.5 hours). From Middle Hill Hut the track continues over the northern (Whetu) end of the main Kaweka Range. This route is via a poled track which traverses the open Kaweka tops (1600 metres) for at least 1.5 hours tramping. The track passes a side track to Ballard Hut on the way, before dropping down onto the Ballard Saddle and crossing to Venison Tops and Tira Lodge. Some caution may be required during adverse weather conditions.
This track passes by Makahu Saddle Hut which is 5 minutes walk from the carpark before climbing to the top of the main Kaweka Range. The track then continues onto Back Ridge Hut, down to Rocks Ahead Hut before climbing up to Venison Tops and Tira Lodge.
Tira Lodge is well situated for brief or overnight stops when heading to further points throughout the park. It can also be used for a round trip from Makahu Saddle carpark or from other eastern access points.
From Tira Lodge, formed tracks lead in 3 directions:
To reach the hut you must first cross the Ballard saddle and then travel up along the sub-alpine tops following a poled route. The track drops down a scree slope after 30 minutes to reach the hut.
To reach the hut you must cross a saddle track that drops and then rises and falls before finally climbing out onto the open tops. The hut is 15 minutes walk from the sign-posted track junction with the Te Pukeohikarua track.
This track travels along the alpine tops for 15 minutes before entering the beech forest and descending down a long ridge to the Ngaruroro River and Rocks Ahead Hut.
NZTopo50 map sheet: BJ37
Grid/NZTM2000 coordinates: E1886660, N5650529
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.