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January 2013 Issue
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Family outing to Jans place

The swingbridge is a big hit with kids. photo: Nina Mercer
Jans Hut, nine bunks. The hut is sole occupancy, kept locked and must be booked through DOC’s online booking system
From Catchpool Valley south of Wainuiomata on the Coast Rd, 45 minutes drive from Wellington
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Jans Hut, Rimutaka Forest Park

If your kids are young but you’re dying to take them tramping, Jan’s Hut is a great place to go.

There are several DOC huts in the Orongorongo Valley that you can book and where there are gas cookers, pots, pans, crockery and cutlery.

We chose Jans Hut (the inside toilet a major attraction), and got the family organised. This included mum, dad, our six and four-year-old sons and our three-year-old daughter. A set of grandparents joined us and an uncle and partner, a full house for the nine bunk hut.

Following a very well maintained track, the tramp passes through beautiful beech forest. The swingbridge was a major hit with the kids, although the dogs weren’t so keen on it. The wide Orongorongo River is crossed 10 minutes before reaching the hut. It is a braided riverbed and the deepest crossing was knee-deep for adults so isn’t a problem in fine weather.

Life at the hut is easy – there’s a large kitchen and dining area with a few bunks and a separate bunkroom out the back, and a wood burner to keep the place warm and to heat up water for those wanting a hot shower.

The walk out the next day took just two-and-a-half hours – an hour quicker than the way in – with the highlight for me being when Anna said “I love tramping with you, Mum”.

The kids were tired, the younger two needing to be carried a bit more, but they were happy. Upon reaching the car park we sat down for a picnic lunch and reflected on the success of the tramp.

It’s so great to be able to get into the wilderness with the kids, and such an easy way to do it.

– Nina Mercer