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December 2016 Issue
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Family night out

A family begins the walk out from Huxley Forks Hut. Photo: Rob Brown
Total Ascent
Ram Hill car park to Monument Hut, 2-3hr; Monument Hut to Huxley Forks Hut, 3-4hr
Monument Hut ($5, six bunks); Huxley Forks Hut ($5, six bunks)
ake Lake Ohau Road to Ram Hill car park, opposite Huxley Lodge. 4WD vehicles can drive a further 8km to Monument Hut
Huxley Forks Hut, Ruataniwha Conservation Park

Inland from Lake Ohau is a gem of a side valley which branches off the major tributary of the Hopkins Valley. Ask around a few southern outdoors folk and chances are you’ll hear a story about one of their earliest memories of venturing into the mountains here. A number of schools use this valley for school camps.

It’s an easy 3-4hr walk from Monument Hut, alongside the Huxley River, to the junction of the north and south branches of this river and where Huxley Forks Hut is sited. It’s only possible to tramp this way if the rivers are running at normal flow – keep clear if there is a nor-west storm passing through the mountains.

Huxley Forks Hut (labelled on maps as Main Huxley Forks Hut) was built in 1955 for deer cullers. The chosen site is a magical place, surrounded by mountains with a grand view back down the valley.

DOC has recently reroofed and reclad the hut as well as adding a covered porch.

There are few backcountry huts that cater to such a wide variety of recreational activities as does Huxley Forks. There’s good hunting for those willing to put in the effort, and the hut offers an advanced day trip ride for mountain bikers.

The Huxley River also offers a lot of interesting medium level mountaineering opportunities. Three hours up the north branch is Broderick Hut, which is often used as a base for the ‘trampers mountain’ of Mt MacKenzie (2156m). A tougher adventure is up the south Huxley where a tiny biv is used as a base to climb Mt Huxley (2505m).

But it’s as an entry level family destination that Huxley Forks Hut really excels. For younger kids, it offers just the right level of challenge and interest in a stunning mountain location.

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