By Joe Hansen, Service Ranger, Masterton
Built using local totara timbers, adzed into framing and split into slab walls – Cone Hut is one of the best surviving examples of a ‘slab hut’ in New Zealand.
This totara treasure has sheltered many generations of visitors over the years, so it was sad to hear that vandals had recently made a mess of it.
Paint and rubbish had been strewn all around the interior and the hut was in a sorry state.
When we heard about the vandalism, Senior Ranger Hayden Barrett, sent two rangers into the hills to clean the hut as best they could. In the meantime, talks about the fate of the old hut began with the Tararua Tramping Club.
The Club had built Cone Hut in the late forties and it was obvious that no one wanted to see the hut pulled down, even though it was in a perilous state.
To make the hut more comfortable, the floor and the bunks needed attention and firewood would need to be stacked outside. It was decided that a proper wooden floor should go in over the dirt floor and plywood should be installed on the platform bunks to give hut users a comfortable night’s sleep.
We were all excited when a kitset wood shed was offered to be flown in.
The shed would be clad with totara slabs that were left over from the Hutt Valley Tramping Club’s old Baines Hut in the Orongorongo Valley, which was pulled down a few years ago. This meant that the wood shed would blend in perfectly and be a fitting part of our backcountry heritage.
Last Monday three DOC staff and three Tararua Tramping Club members flew into Cone Hut with Amalgamated Helicopters and all the necessary tools and materials to carry out the job.
The woodshed went up without a hitch and the tramping club crew ripped up and dug out the old floor ready for their club working bee later this month.
It’s fantastic to see Cone Hut being restored for many more generations to enjoy.
Cone Hut is best accessed from Waiohine roadend, on the Holdsworth – Kaitoke Track. It is free to stay in.