Waihaha Hut, Pureora Forest Park Waihaha Hut is much more than the sum of its parts.
It doesn’t offer sprawling mountain views or inspiring architecture, but it feels like home the moment you emerge from the bush and spot it across the small clearing.
Like a Disney cottage, it sits by a babbling river in a hug of protective native bush – smoke lazily leaking from the chimney if you’re lucky.
The track follows the river through its many phases over the volcanic landscape, undulating as it winds upwards through dense forest.
A few viewpoints of waterfalls, rapids and valleys make for a varied trip, and a wide flat of stunted tree growth midway reminds of the Tongariro landscape.
The hut sits on the Te Araroa Trail, and the Waihaha River is a stone’s throw away. Its deep crystal waters are inviting even in winter. I took a brisk dip on a mid-August visit, and I’m happy to spare the details of the brevity of my swim.
An easy three-hour walk from the roadside car park, the cosy hut is a perfect four season hideaway for those seeking a relaxing weekend and a spot of solitude.