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Desert cabin

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September 2019 Issue

Rangipo Hut, Tongariro National Park

Rangipo Hut serves as a welcome refuge in the middle of the windswept Rangipo Desert. This 20-bunk hut functions primarily as overnight accommodation for those attempting the multi-day Round the Mountain Track. However, its close proximity to the Desert Road also makes it a perfect weekend getaway.

The hut can be reached with either a full day hike from the Desert Road via the Waihohonu Track or a half-day stroll from the 4WD access road of Tukino Skifield. The best time to visit is during the winter months when you can often have the whole hut to yourself.

The track crosses a vast barren terrain under the shadow of Mt Ruapehu. Sparse in vegetation, the loose volcanic soil gets eroded into deep gullies by fast-flowing streams and rivers. Layers of exposed ancient volcanic ash tell the story of the volcano’s explosive past.

At around 1.5km from the hut, a swingbridge spans the impressive Whangaehu River, which has been scoured by many lahars including the one that caused the Tangiwai Disaster in 1953. Here, it is easy to appreciate the immense forces of nature that have shaped this landscape.

Upon arrival at the hut, unwind near the fireplace, sipping your favourite beverage, and watch the occasional vehicle traversing the Desert Road. Unlike the traffic below, life is at a much slower pace up here.

– Zhi Yuen Yap

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Total Ascent
Easy / Moderate
6-8hr from Desert Road, 2hr from Tukino Ski Field access road
Rangipo Hut ($15, 20 bunks)
Desert Road or Tukino Skifield access road
BJ34, BJ35

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