Our recently announced Protecting Our Place partnership with Dulux got us thinking about how we can let more people know about the many easy to get to huts that DOC manages, so they can get out and enjoy them.
Easy access huts are a great way to experience huts for the first time without having to walk too far (some you can even drive to). They’re also for all ages and fitness levels, go check them out in our new hut breaks section of the DOC website.
It also got me reminiscing about taking my then five-year-old son on his first overnight stay in a hut. We went into Raukawa Hut near Wellington with a group of mums and kids.
Rimutaka Forest Park is about 45 mins drive from Wellington city, so it was easy to leave after school on a sunny Friday afternoon. The walk in to the hut is about two hours – having the kids in tow added another half an hour. This included many necessary scroggin and chocolate stops, which kept everyone well fuelled.
I love the walk in to the river, as the track is easy under foot and you are sheltered from the sun by the beautiful forest over head. A bit of bird spotting went on and the kids had fun pretending they were on some kind of military mission, racing along the track.
Raukawa is in an awesome spot by the river, close to the end of the track. In summer the river is low and basically a really a large river bed with a few streams heading down the valley. It’s a different story after rain, so it’s always good to keep an eye on the weather forecast as the river level can change quite quickly.
There are a couple of stream crossings before you get to the hut, the kids enjoyed running through and getting nice and wet!
Once at the hut we unpacked and the bunk bagging began – the kids had discovered how much fun the sleeping platforms were for rolling around in their sleeping bags.
As far as huts go, Raukawa is luxurious, with an internal flush toilet, wetback shower and gas for cooking.
Once settled in the kids disappeared off to start their military missions around the hut, fortifying it from the enemy.
We also had a budding spider expert amongst us so, with book in tow, there was lots of spider identification going on, including a journey out after dark.
After a hearty dinner and a glass of wine for the mums (the bonus of a short walk in) it was down to the river to watch the stars. It was incredible with a clear night and no city lights. We all thought it was magical, especially those who had never been into the bush before.
After Milo and stories around the pot belly it was off to bed. We won’t talk about how loudly some people snore….
The next day we woke to a beautiful summer’s day and spent time exploring near the hut and visiting Jans Hut, which isn’t far away.
The afternoon was spent reading, relaxing and swimming in the river. The kids spent hours doing more missions, including damming up the river, playing in the shallow rapids, spider spotting and bird watching going on. That night we heard kiwi calling out across the valley which was pretty special and something not too many ‘kiwi kids’ get to experience.
We had lots of tired bodies after our adventures, and were thankful for the wetback in the hut that allowed us (a very quick) hot shower at the end of a fantastic day.
Sunday morning was a little more leisurely as we knew we had to head back to our lives in the city. We cleaned the hut out, making sure we left it spic and span, repacked and set off. Luckily we still had plenty of scroggin to encourage the little legs along.
We were all a little sad we couldn’t spend more time out in the bush, away from TVs and computers. But the retelling of our adventures and planning of the next trip kept us going.
So I would encourage anyone who hasn’t done it to get out and experience the huge network of huts DOC manages on your behalf. The staff out in the regions do an amazing job keeping the tracks maintained and the huts ship shape. Seeing the look on my son’s face as he stared up at the beautiful night sky with thousands of twinkling stars was priceless.
And if you’ve never done it before we have some handy tips about DOC huts with tips on what to take. One thing I might add is ear plugs.