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To celebrate the Protecting Our Place partnership with Dulux, DOC staff are sharing their ‘hut breaks’ stories. Today Stephen Wynne-Jones—Policy Advisor tells us about his tramp to Hunters Hunt in Mt Richmond Forest Park.
In February my wife Liz and I tramped over from Inwoods Lookout to Hunters Hut in Mt Richmond Forest Park (between Nelson and Nelson Lakes). Dogs are allowed in this Park with a permit which is easily obtained from the Nelson Visitor Centre. Carrying the permit, we headed off with our “companion dog” Sam, a nine year old border collie. It was great to have Sam with us. He kept a close eye on us and was very well behaved. The only chasing/hunting we let him do was after a hare, which was, of course, much too fast for him to catch.
At the end of the trip Sam was a bit “paw” sore. His tail was still up though at the end of the walk. This indicates to me that he was a tired but happy dog.
From Inwoods Lookout the track to Hunters Hut climbs steadily to the Gordons Range ridgeline. It then runs along the ridge for a while before descending steeply to the Left Branch of the Motueka River, not far from the hut. The ridgetop section offers expansive views to the west eastwards towards the Red Hills and the Mt Ellis/Ben Nevis Ridge and southwards to the Nelson Lakes mountains and beyond.
We walked into the hut on a Friday evening after work, which meant that we finished the tramp in the dark. We found the DOC orange track markers okay to follow in the bush. Once we arrived at the Left Branch of the Motueka River though, we found they were much harder to spot in the dark. As a result we lost our way for a while and overshot the track leading up to the hut. This resulted in us having a later night than we expected.
At the hut we met an interesting bunch of trampers who were heading southwards along the Te Araroa Way. This is the national long distance trail that runs the full length of the country from Cape Reinga to Bluff. All were from overseas – three young men from the US (who were travelling together), and two from France (travelling separately). Meeting these people was a change from our previous visit to this hut which was before the Te Araroa Way opened. Then, we had the hut to ourselves, even though it was in the middle of an Easter weekend. I was struck by the long days the long distance trampers on the Te Araroa Way were doing.
Hunters Hut is a relocated hut located on a spur above the site of the old Bush Edge Hut. The Bush Edge Hut was taken out by a flood/slip on 23 February 1995 with the loss of two DOC hunters who were sheltering there. This history is described in interpretative material at the hut. Co-incidentally we were at Hunters Hut 18 years to the day (and also a Saturday) since this sad event occurred.
Hunters Hut today is a wonderful standard DOC eight bunk hut. It has views, plenty of sunshine (in summer anyway) and a great set up with decks on two sides and platform bunks at one end. This leaves plenty of space inside the hut for cooking, eating, yarning and relaxing. The nearby river has some great swimming holes.
Hunters Hut is near to the Red Hills an area of ultramafic (very dense magnesium rich) rock. This rock is very unforgiving if you fall on it. It is hard on tramping boots and dog paws. Ultramafic rock is naturally infertile so much of the area is covered in distinctive scrub and tussock. We found it also has lots of lizards, distinctive colours, and interesting rock forms.
Enjoy a hut break of your own
An overnight stay in a beautiful natural setting can be yours without having to raise too much of a sweat. Take a short walk, a boat trip or drive directly to the door to enjoy one of DOC’s down to earth stays. They’re all unique – from fairly basic to having many of the comforts of home, find one that’s right for you.