Shutes Hut is a rabbiter’s hut (4.0m x 2.4m) built of local stone and cement mortar which was laboriously packed in. It has a gabled roof with corrugated iron cladding. There is a fireplace at one end and it has a concrete floor. Shutes Hut is backed by mature trees to the south and open grass to the north.
The hut stands in a grassy clearing surrounded by pine trees. The area is popular for hunting and the nearby Taruarau River is noted for its trout fishing.
Shutes Hut was built in 1920 for the owners of Big Hill Station, Vautier and Hewitt, by E Smith and Alex Shute. It served as a musterer’s hut on the station in a backcountry grazing area then carrying 1000 sheep. The first, and for many years the only, regular occupant was Alex Shute who led a solitary life rabbiting . He planted a small orchard nearby as well as pine and gum trees, some of which still survive.
During the 1940s - 1960s the hut was used by government cullers attached to the Internal Affairs department and then later the Forest Service. Since that time the hut has been used as accommodation by recreational hunters and trampers.
Inside the hut at night
Conservation work was undertaken on the hut in 1998.
The use of stone for a back country hut is very rare. New Zealand’s few examples are found mainly in the South Island. This building represents an unusual determination to construct a durable structure, and the vernacular use of a local building material. Shute (one of the builders) came from Timaru and it may be there that he learnt the craft of stonemasonry.
This rabbiter’s hut is both a reminder of the determined attempts by pastoralists to farm marginal terrain in inland Hawke’s Bay and the important need to control rabbit numbers.
The hut will remain in use and be maintained to protect its historic fabric and minimise deterioration. A conservation plan (Cochran 1992) and maintenance plan (Cochran 1997) have been prepared to guide its management. They contain more information about the hut.
Shute's Hut is accessed from No Man's Road, via a private road through Big Hill Station. An access permit, obtained through a ballot system, is required.
After travelling 5 km from the park boundary on No Man's Road, a short track leads to Ruahine Hut. The track to Shute's Hut begins on the upper edge of this clearing and heads north through regenerating manuka, kanuka and beech forest.
NZTopo50 map sheet: BK37
Grid/NZTM2000 coordinates: E1883194, N5621456
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.
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