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May 2021 Issue
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Book online with backcountry passes

Pahautea Hut is the latest hut to be added to DOC’s booking system and can be paid for using a Backcountry Hut Pass. Photo: George Driver

Backcountry hut passes can now be used to book huts online after DOC upgraded its booking system, but there’s a catch: the passes cannot be used at all bookable huts.

Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC) has been pushing for hut passes to be included in DOC’s online booking system for years and has criticised the expansion of bookable huts for devaluing hut passes.

Backcountry Hut Passes enable users to stay an unlimited number of nights at DOC huts and are valid for six months and 12 months for $92 and $122 respectively.

The department updated its online booking system last year, adding selected campsites to the booking system, and some bookable huts can now be paid for using a hut pass. Users need to register their hut pass on their DOC booking account.

However, the passes could only be used at a handful of the 44 bookable huts and 24 lodges.

Wilderness asked DOC for a list of bookable huts which could be paid for using the pass, but DOC would not supply a list.

“We acknowledge that the Backcountry Hut Pass can be a little complex in terms of what it covers currently,” a DOC spokesperson said. “The best way for people to see if the hut pass can be used for a hut is to check DOC’s website, look at the relevant page for the hut they’re interested in, and there’ll be a statement there as to whether it can be used to book that particular hut.”

Information on the hut pass on the department’s website lists 23 huts that can’t be booked using the pass, but adds the passes are invalid at “most bookable huts”.

FMC president Jan Finlayson said she was delighted that the passes could now be used at some bookable huts, but was disappointed so many huts had been excluded.

Meanwhile, Pahautea Hut atop Pirongia Mountain near Hamilton has been added to the booking system and can be booked using the hut pass. The adjoining camping platforms will remain free but can also be booked online.

Bookable huts where a Backcountry Hut Pass can be used:

  • Te Whare Okioki
  • Waitawheta
  • Jubilee
  • Kohanga Atawhai Manson Nicholls
  • Bushline
  • Atiwhakatu
  • Powel
  • Jumbo
  • Woolshed Creek
  • Pinnacles – Geraldine
  • Pahautea
  • Pouakai
  • Otamahua
  • Rangiwahia
  • Siberia
  • Sunrise
  • Packhorse
  • Big River
  • Kirwans
  • Brewster
  • Angelus (1 May – 29 November)
  • Atiwhakatu