Ellis Hut (historic)

Image: DOC


This is an historic hut, used for farming, wild animal control and recreation purposes since it was built in 1884.

Hut overview


  • Category


  • Bookings

Bookings not required - first come, first served


  • Heating
  • Mattresses
  • Toilets - non-flush
  • Water from tap - not treated, boil before use
4 bunk beds

About this hut

Ellis Hut is a timber frame building sheathed in pit sawn weatherboards and lined inside with hand worked beaded tongue and groove boarding. The roof is corrugated iron.

The hut is situated amidst grass and developing pine forest with regenerating native forest nearby.


  • Heating - open fire



Ellis Hut was built in 1884 by Bill Marsh and Jack Curtis for Jock Anderson who owned Poporangi Station, and wanted a hut to serve the back of what was then a vast run. It was first named after Bill Whitnell, shepherd and hunter, who lived in it for many years.

In 1904 it was the temporary refuge of an infamous murderer, Jack Ellis, who had been on the run for several months and was captured at the hut. A typed copy of the story was deposited in the hut, which was subsequently named after Ellis.

The hut nearly burnt down in 1935. It was in good order in 1945 but by the 1960s it had deteriorated considerably. It was conserved in January 1995. Historical themes for this hut are farming, recreation and wild animal control

Fabric significance

Ellis Hut is a very early backcountry hut. It is an important example of a remote structure built partly in primitive fashion. The pit sawn timber is augmented by some fine hand dressed timber, unusual in such a rudimentary isolated structure.

Historic significance

Ellis Hut is the oldest surviving hut in the Ruahines and one of the oldest surviving buildings in New Zealand’s mountain regions. It had a long association with mustering in this remote area. It is most famous however for its association with James Ellis the murderer who hid at the hut for several months early in the twentieth century.

Future management

The hut will remain in use and be maintained to protect its historic fabric and minimise deterioration. Both conservation and maintenance plans (Cochran 1990) have been prepared to guide its management. They contain more information about the hut.


NZTopo50 map sheet: BK37
Grid/NZTM2000 coordinates: E1881401, N5598840




Te Papaioea / Palmerston North Office
Phone:   +64 6 350 9700
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   manawatu@doc.govt.nz
Address:   28 North Street
Palmerston North 4410
Postal Address:   Private Bag 11010
Manawatu Mail Centre
Palmerston North 4442
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