The Ōkārito School House is managed as a historic asset by the Department of Conservation.
Originally built as a schoolhouse in 1901, the building ran as a YHA shelter for 30 years from 1960, and was restored by the Ōkārito Community Association and the Department in 1990. The Ōkārito Community Association ran the Ōkārito School House as accommodation until 2010.
The Ōkārito School House was erected in 1901 on its present site although parts of the building are thought to date back to the original building which was established in 1867 at the wharf. Ōkārito’s population dwindled through the 1920s and 1930s and the school eventually closed in 1946.
In 1958 the site was put into reserve status but with little use the building was in a very sad state of repair. With the help of Greymouth branch of YHA a major restoration project was undertaken and the building was opened as a YHA shelter in 1960.
Between 1960 and 1990 the shelter was the only place for travellers to spend a night in Ōkārito. Around 1960 there were only four permanent residents in Ōkārito and it was 1987 before the village had enough residents to form the Ōkārito Community Association. By this time, once again, the Ōkārito schoolhouse was in need of a complete rebuild.
DOC, YHA and the local community undertook a huge restoration project in a joint effort in 1990. DOC produced a conservation plan for the schoolhouse in 1988 and further improvements include modern kitchen facilities, repainting and restoring the exterior of the building, financed with money raised by the local community.
It is an example of a project that has arisen from the needs of a community, firstly in it’s early history as a school and later in its role as an overnight shelter for travellers. Today the Ōkārito School House offers travellers a unique chance to experience the life of a bygone era, a chance to sample the history and culture of a small New Zealand settlement the way it was.
The fees are $116 per night, for up to 12 people.
Booking is sole occupancy only
Bookings are open for stays from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2023.
Bookings are required all year.
A $10 service fee applies to phone and in-person booking. This is a limited service – book online first. An in-person booking is dependent on there being space available.
Backcountry Hut Passes and Backcountry Hut Tickets cannot be used at this hut.
The Ōkārito School House is located in Ōkārito on the South Island’s West Coast. Drive 15km north from Franz Josef Waiau on State Highway 6 to the Ōkārito Forks turnoff which is signposted on the left.
Follow the sealed Ōkārito Road for 13 km until you reach Ōkārito village. The School House is located on the left near the centre of the village.
Please note there are no shops or service stations in Ōkārito so make sure you have enough supplies before you head out there.