Swazi founder Davey Hughes takes a trip to tahr country on the West Coast of the South Island.Continue Reading...
Archives For Backcountry
Blogger Sharlene Laskey tells us about her mission to visit all of New Zealand’s huts and shelters.Continue Reading...
Canterbury’s South Huxley Biv looks as good as new, thanks to some hard working volunteers and funding from the NZ Outdoor Recreation Consortium.Continue Reading...
By Andy Thompson, Technical Advisor Recreation, Christchurch
As a passionate hunter I love exploring our backcountry—so much country, so little time!
The backcountry—its huts and tracks—are our inheritance.
For me, the places where I first took my kids on an overnight tramp, and where they shot their first deer or chamois, are ingrained into my character and our family’s folklore. It’s a legacy I want my grandkids and their grandkids to have.
I’m also one of the lucky DOC staff working with the New Zealand Outdoor Recreation Consortium, who are keen to look after and maintain New Zealand’s backcountry facilities.
My heroes are the people that go on major missions, who use these places and then choose, in their spare time, to put something back.
This isn’t about DOC shedding its responsibilities to look after backcountry huts, this is about doing more and looking after the places where many of us spend our holidays and weekends and enrich our lives.
So, if you’re a tramper, hunter, mountain biker, 4WDer, horse rider, caver, kayaker, mountaineer or more, and want to find out what we’re up to come check out the New Zealand Outdoor Recreation Consortium website.
Community Relations Ranger Clare Duston writes about proper etiquette when visiting backcountry huts.
Many of us are scared of the unknown. Not always because of any danger, but because we just don’t know what to expect, how to do it, or the etiquette around it. These can be things as simple as going to a really fancy restaurant, catching a bus in an unfamiliar city, or staying in a hut. Staying in a hut is a highlight of an outdoor experience.
They may not be quite as luxurious as your own home; you don’t get a hot shower and they definitely don’t have coffee machines, but when you arrive after a long walk or in the middle of the pouring rain to find that someone has already lit the fire that hut feels like a palace.
It is true that for most huts, you cannot book a bed, although most Great Walk huts have a booking system. For all other DOC huts you can buy hut tickets from any DOC office, and they don’t expire so can be used any time in any part of New Zealand.
Bed allocation happens on a first come first served basis – the first one in gets the best bed. It is acceptable practice to place your pack or sleeping bag on a bunk to bag a space. It’s definitely not acceptable to removes someone else’s stuff because you like that bunk better than yours. However, I am definitely not recommending that you walk as fast as you can just so you can get to the hut first and get a bed – it would be a great shame to miss the scenery along the way. Remember that most of the time you are in the hut, you will have your eyes closed, sleeping. Unless there are snorers – earplugs are very small and very light so take them! If there are more people than beds, don’t worry, it can be nice and cosy on the floor by the fire.
Hut etiquette basically revolves around common sense and consideration. If you are arriving late or are leaving early, be as quiet as you can. Boots come off at the door, as well as wet raincoats. Clean up after yourself – last person out of the hut in the morning sweeps the floor. If you have a fire, collect some more wood to replace what you have burnt. Conserve wood and water.
Long drops are not the highlight of staying in a hut, but they are necessary, and often have a great view. Take your own toilet paper as it’s not usually provided. My big tip with long drops – don’t drop your torch down the hole.
The great thing about huts is that they are warm and dry when it is stormy outside. You spend time with interesting people from all over the world, who are there for the same reason as you – to get away for a while and unwind in our amazing wild places.
So go on, I dare you – stay in a DOC hut this summer and discover the magic!
Enjoy a backcountry hut experience this summer by finding your ideal hut break on the DOC Website.
Felicity Deverell has left her home and studio behind her to embark on a drawing adventure in the New Zealand backcountry. She plans to draw about 50 huts to feature in an exhibition/book. Felicity writes about some of her challenges so far.
Drawing out in the wilderness is very different from in the studio. It has its difficulties but is very enjoyable on the whole. I love being outside, and I love drawing, so it was a great holiday for me.
The challenges of drawing huts abounded. In the first place, it was difficult to find a good angle to draw the hut from. It wasn’t just a question of which side the hut looked most interesting from, often finding one possible drawing angle was hard. Most huts were either closely surrounded by bush or long grass, so I had to find ways of getting around that.
Getting far enough away from the hut to get a good view of it, and to get it to fit on my paper, was a challenge, but I always found a way.
Before I began drawing the huts, I thought of just doing sketches of them, and working on larger more detailed drawings later, as the main thing to show at an exhibition. But I am now thinking that what I draw out there is worth more than what I could do in my studio. They have more interest and character to them, and capture the feel of the place.
For an exhibition and a book, all I really need is the material I get out there. But I still intend to do a few paintings on canvass and for those I will work on my studio from sketches and photographs.
More information on Felicity Deverell and her ‘The Art of a Hut’ project is available on her blog.
You could enjoy a backcountry hut experience of your own by finding your ideal hut break on the DOC website.
Chrissy Wickes a Biodiversity Ranger based in the Te Anau Area Office tells us why she loved her recent hut break.
Why I loved my recent tramping trip to Heather Jock Hut:
1) It was easy for the family to walk, a great little overnight treat.
2) We stayed in a really cool old hut in the tussock tops
3) We saw some amazing historic huts on the way to Heather Jock hut.
4) There was a wee bit of shade and a small waterfall on the way to give us relief from a very hot afternoon
5) Nobody else was staying there when we arrived – just as well as there were only 3 beds!