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May 2014 Issue
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Relaxing retreat up the Taipo

Photo: Alana Srubar-Vernon
Dillon Hut, 10 bunks; Dillons Homestead Hut, 10 bunks
The car park is approximately 10km from Jacksons on SH73
BR28, BV20

Dillon Hut, Stewardship Land, West Coast

For those wanting an easy overnighter to get back into tramping or who still haven’t quite got the strength for a long overnight tramp, the Taipo Valley is for you.

Before starting the tamp, we lunched at the famous Jackson’s Hotel in the tiny village of Jacksons – just around the corner from Otira on SH73.  The hotel is still run by the ancestors of the original Jacksons who established it in 1870.

After filling up on some good nosh, we drove to the start of the track, which immediately rises over the tail end of the Bald Range and descends back to the Taipo River.

The track then ambles along the river’s edge, through varying sparse forest and displays some lovely scenery with rock falls along the way. There is the odd creek or stream crossing, which means wet feet are unavoidable.

Near to Dillon Hut, the river crossings become a bit more interesting with Seven Mile Creek kicking quite a punch with some high pressure flows to wade through. After heavy rain it would be impassable. But we struck calm weather and soon sighted the old Dillon Homestead which is a fantastic hut oozing with history. The Dillon couple lived here foraging from the land and prospecting for gold. The homestead was their family home and is now managed by the Kumara Hunting Club. Spread across the walls are items of historic interest with photos and writings about the Dillons.

A few minutes upstream is the modern 10-bunk Dillon Hut which, with all the bells and whistles, gave us a very warm secure sleep.

Once at the hut, we dropped our packs and carried on to have fun playing on Scotties Cableway. It’s about an hour’s walk from the hut but well worth it. The route from the hut is fairly well marked but you can cut across the river bed (once the cableway is visible) and save some time if the river is flowing low. We had a wonderful time ferrying each other back and forth across the Taipo River until the setting sun and the mosquitoes, forced us to retreat to the hut for dinner.

We woke to the sound of a weka roaming around the hut. After a relaxed breakfast, with misty mountains dominating the view, we set off back to the car. We mostly retraced our steps but ventured further from the river bed to explore an unnamed hut along the route, where we found people enjoying breakfast and didn’t want to intrude so said hello and carried on.

On both the way in and out, we got to experience the other main users of the track, 4WD drivers. It was a bit odd, yet also funny, to be in a wilderness setting and to hear an oncoming vehicle with its engine growling.

The Taipo Valley is a great place to relax while tramping through some lovely scenery, and with a variety of huts to choose from, there is a place – and space – for everyone.

– Alana Srubar-Vernon