Conservation Week Hero – Jan Lowe

Department of Conservation —  06/09/2021

We’re taking a moment in Conservation Week to acknowledge and celebrate some of our amazing volunteers and conservation heroes!

Jan Lowe is one example of the many people who give their time and energy to help Papatūānuku and the people of Aotearoa thrive.

Jan and Aoraki Mount Cook ⛰️

At the age of 70, Jan is an avid tramper and has been a volunteer hut warden and camp host for the last 21 years.

French Ridge Hut in Mount Aspiring National Park was where Jan began her regular volunteering all those years ago. After this, cleaning Rakiura/Stewart Island huts for five years led to a regular stint as hut warden at Mueller Hut in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. In 2007 Jan moved north to be the hut warden at Woolshed Creek Hut at Mount Somers and is still going strong there.

In recent years Jan has also volunteered as a camp host at Peel Forest and further south at Glencoe campsite.

“Jan is part of the wider Geraldine/Oamaru DOC team. It’s always a nice feeling when Jan is volunteering at one of our huts or campsites as you know the place is in good hands” says Chris Dyson, Heritage/Visitor and Community Supervisor at the Geraldine district office in South Canterbury.

“Being a hut warden has given me a strong sense of belonging to our beautiful back country, and I’ve met people of all ages from many backgrounds,” Jan says.

“I’ve enjoyed the interaction with trampers, both local and international, sharing knowledge about the wonderful backcountry and stunning huts.”

Jan has seen a few changes in the years that she has been volunteering as a hut warden. The introduction of the booking system has encouraged more families to venture to Woolshed Creek Hut as they know they have a guaranteed bed for everyone.

“It’s difficult to share any one part that makes being a volunteer so fulfilling but being on hand to help those in trouble and making lifelong friends have been highlights for me” Jan says.

Jan is booked to be a hut warden and camp host again for the coming season and Chris is looking forward to having her back on the team.

Jan doesn’t leave home without her locator beacon, walking poles and Shirley Bear (a miniature Robin River teddy) who has been traveling with her since 1991. Here, Shirley Bear is waiting for the radio call to base

Hut wardens have a really important role in making sure our facilities and visitors are well looked after. They are integral to ensuring that people have a positive, enjoyable and safe time in nature.

Most DOC regions recruit camp hosts and hut wardens throughout winter in preparation for the summer programme. Before starting in their role, volunteers have a thorough induction, including covering the safety plan and the hut warden manual.

Repeat volunteers like Jan, who know the role and carry it out well are really appreciated. Chris comments:

“Jan has the perfect mix of backcountry skills and experience and has a very approachable and friendly personality. It’s easy to be a hut warden but not so easy to be a good hut warden, and Jan is definitely good at what she does and is an asset to our volunteer team”

Jan on the route to the Dingleburn Valley

If you are keen to volunteer as a hut warden or camp host, or in any other way, you can find out more on the volunteering section on the DOC website.

Take a moment to celebrate and enjoy nature this Conservation Week, 4–12 September 2021. It can be as simple as stopping to listen to birdsong, walking with the whānau or finding a fun online conservation activity to try:

16 responses to Conservation Week Hero – Jan Lowe


    Wow. Jan well done and amazing


      Thank you Miko, slowing down a lot now but have stints booked for this season.

    George Young 10/09/2021 at 12:11 pm

    Well done Jan.
    21 yrs as a Vol should be rewarded & celebrated in this way. Having volunteered as a warden for about 15 yrs it’s a role that brings great personal satisfaction & joy. I too have worked repeat stints at French Ridge, Siberia Valley + Travers/Sabine circuits over those 15 yrs. Sadly, the uncertainty around current lockdowns in NSW, makes it difficult to plan ahead for the summer season in NZ.
    Desperate to complete more warden duties in NZ if/when the opportunity arises for us Aussie’s.
    Enjoy the season ahead
    George 👍


      Thank you George. You have done some amazing area’s. Sorry you are going to miss this season as well, hopefully things will be a bit more normal by next season.

      Michael Wynne 10/09/2021 at 2:23 pm

      me too!live in ozland and have been a hut warden and camp ground host for quite a while


        Hi Michael, it is amazing helping DOC in our amazing area’s. Hope you get to come back down under and get out there again.

    Stephen Calver 06/09/2021 at 9:57 pm

    What a lovely lady that I had the pleasure to meet and chat with, very devoted to walking and hiking those wonderful NZ sites and beautiful places full of knowledge about the areas she cares for ,lucky lady to have such wonderful areas to help look after take care Jan


      Thank you Steve, lovely to meet you as well and perhaps again one day in the hills.

    Dale Flawith 06/09/2021 at 9:10 pm

    Congratulations sweetie. You must be so proud. I know I am proud to have you as a friend. Hope you have many more years as a warden


      Thank you my friend, it has been a very special time of my life 🙂


    Thank you Pania, stayed at :Luxmore 3 times and run up to in on Luxmore Grunt 5 times but now very slow on the uphill 🙂

    Avaleigh Nathan 06/09/2021 at 7:02 pm

    Wow Jan what an amazing article well done you. Proud of you my old mate. You area true kiwi legend my friend.


    Wow that is fantastic, congratulations on doing this for 21 years, proud of you.


    Go Jan!! Well done, 21 years is a great length of time and should be celebrated.

    Being a hut ranger (warden) can be so rewarding especially meeting a diverse range of people and sharing the environment you are in with like minded people.

    Let me know if you ever want to volunteer at Luxmore Hut on the Kepler Track during the winter months or let Chris know to forward yours or my details.

    Pania Dalley
    Supervisor – Great Walks Fiordland