Tailings Hut – a successful volunteer working holiday

Department of Conservation —  12/03/2012

Six committed volunteers from as far afield as Australia recently spent a week helping restore Tailings Hut in Oteake Conservation Park.

The Volunteers and Mark Harrison (DOC ranger) in front of Tailings Hut

The trip to Tailings Hut is an adventure in itself; the 4WD track has numerous river crossings and steep rocky sections with long falls to the valley floor that get the heart racing. Travelling through this vast tussock country with big skies reveals a Graham Sydney painting in every direction. The hut suddenly appears, nestled in a small valley beside a lovely crystal creek.

Volunteers, Laurie and Mick spray painting the bunk safety barriers

The volunteers are keen and quick to help. Once assigned tasks, they work like beavers from early morning until they are persuaded to put down tools and call it a day. They replace weatherboards, tugging away the rotten ones, paint over vivid lime green paint in the bunkrooms, remove a wall of trashy graffiti, repaint the interior and exterior, refurbish the fireplace and build a new hay shed.

Volunteers, Sue and Paul painting one of the bunkrooms

There was little sleep in the camp for the first couple of nights, as wind funnels and howls through the camp site, whipping the tents around. The volunteers take this in their stride and have a fun and memorable week, leaving with new friends and a sense of satisfaction that they have contributed to the upkeep of backcountry huts.

The camp set up at Tailings Hut

This area is a recent addition to Oteake Conservation Park after the tenure review of the Mt Ida Pastoral Occupation License. Grazing continues in this area of the park and the hut is used by the concessionaire for mustering.

Volunteers Roddy and Paul hard at work

Volunteer Sue removing graffiti in bunkroom

Tailings hut is a product of three huts with different histories. The two bunkrooms were once single man quarters used for construction of the Roxburgh Hydro Dam. The larger building, built in the 1930s by farmers who previously held the occupation licence for the site, is now the kitchen.

Volunteers and Mark Harrison (Visitor Assets DOC ranger) hard at work in the kitchen

Thanks to the Central Otago Visitor assets team and the volunteers, the hut has been transformed into a light and pleasant place for people to stay and enjoy the Otago tussock country.

2 responses to Tailings Hut – a successful volunteer working holiday

    Mick Webster 12/03/2012 at 2:45 pm

    One of the best of the 20 or so conservation volunteering projects I’ve done all over the world. Interesting tasks and people, wonderful scenery, nice side-trips, good food! 10/10! Mick the Aussie

    Gordon Sylvester 12/03/2012 at 9:02 am

    Makes a change from destroying back country huts. Good to see a change in direction.