Head for a hut

Janette Asche ©

Heading into the great outdoors this summer? Whether you’re taking it easy, fighting fit, or introducing the grandkids to the fun of tramping, there’s a hut to suit.

Park the pack!

Who would have guessed that huts could so accessible? Only 25 minutes from Te Anau, Lower Princhester Hut in Southland’s Takitimu Conservation Area is an oasis of calm. Set amidst shady beech trees and just 30 seconds walk from where you park the car, it’s a must for those who enjoy peace and simplicity. The 6 bunk beds are comfortable, cooking is basic (bring your Gaz burner as the open fire tends to smoke!) and expect to be alone in this little known, rustic gem.

Also ultra-accessible are New Zealand Alpine Club’s Homer Hut 20 minutes from Milford Sound, and Mt Cook’s Unwin Lodge. Just metres off the road they are both are available to non-members. Homer Hut’s 30 bed facility is a setting off point for day walks that take in spectacular mountain scenery but if you just feel like putting your feet up, bring a book and laze in the sunny living area.

Unwin Lodge sits at the entrance to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park and is a step-up in class with private family rooms as well as shared dorms. With a full kitchen and hot showers, it’s a stone’s throw from tracks to glacial lakes, and short walks to mountain tarns. Best of all, you get to watch gun-climbers limbering up and laying out their gear as they prepare to high-tail it to the mountains.

Going up!

Holly Hut on the popular ‘Around the Mountain’ circuit in Egmont National Park provides a challenging 3-4 hour up and down (and sometimes just up!) hike which leaves from the North Egmont Visitor’s Centre. Once you’re there, listen out for Kiwi calling at night. By day, check out magnificent Bell’s Falls just an hour’s return side trip away.

Don’t let the popularity of Tongariro National Park put you off a hike into the Volcanic Plateau – there’s a reason why everyone wants to go there! While the hoards concentrate on the famous Alpine Crossing, Oturere is one of the lesser-known huts to head to. At 1360m, it’s set in stunning tussock country with superb volcanic views. Just remember to pack the sunnies and book a bunk before you go.

Janette Asche ©

Kid’s stuff

Want to introduce the grandkids to tramping without putting them off? Short, easy walks to huts are the answer. Hope Arm Hut is a flat 1.5-2 hr bush walk that starts with a fun boat crossing of the Waiau river and ends up on the shores of Lake Manapouri. Pack a fishing rod or just enjoy skipping stones. The kids will love it!

A hut on an island – what could be more exciting for children! Matiu/Soames Island in Wellington Harbour boasts Forest and Bird House. Journey out to it on the East by West Ferry, and walk the kids round the island before ending up at your accommodation. Group booking is essential so gather a clan of 8 before you go.


Whatever your reason for heading to a hut, start planning now for an adventure-packed summer break.