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August 2012 Issue
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Five family-friendly SI tramps

Lake Manapouri provides easy recreational opportunities for youngsters. Photo: Pat Barrett

Cedar Flats, Westland

In central Westland numerous valleys descend from the Alps but not all of them are easily accessed. The Toaroha Valley is one such which boasts a good sidle track above its fearsome canyon to reach tranquil Cedar Flats and its large new hut, completed just last year.

The hut, flat, and its adjacent hot pools have long been a popular destination for tramping groups, and more so for the spectacular scenery of the mid to upper valley and its impressive rock gorges. The trip can be treated as a simple overnighter or, with more time, some exploration could be undertaken to reach the high bush fringe bivys above the flats.

Ahuriri Valley, Ahuriri Conservation Park

Mountains of space characterise this grand valley of the central South Island with its easy access, easy walking, and abundant room. Several small huts are dotted through the valley and though offering only 2-4 bunks at best, there is a profusion of enviable campsites – all with jaw dropping views.

Families with older children could even head for the rock bivvy situated in Upper Canyon Creek and return over the range east of here to the Ahuriri. For the less active there is plenty of opportunity for flat valley walking and exploring to last up to four days.

Cobb Valley, Kahurangi National Park

Perhaps the best known valley of the northern South Island, Cobb Valley in Kahurangi National Park has everything a family could wish for when it comes to tramping: 2WD vehicle access to Trilobite Hut, surprisingly easy valley walking, large huts, lots of beautiful lakes, fine campsites, extensive fields of spring flowers, and great views.

A return trip could be made to wonderful Fenella Hut at the valley head to explore its spectacular post-glacial landscape.

Kirwans Hut, Victoria Forest Park

Deep forest, a well-graded pack track, gold mining history and a comfortable bush edge hut commanding an exceptional view of the Buller district and Southern Alps are the rewards for undertaking this trip near Reefton.

Mining relics including an abandoned aerial cableway, an open cast mine, and other extraction paraphernalia are points of interest near the hut.

If time allows, a return trip could be made to the recently restored Lord Brassey Stamping Battery located below the hut in Kirwans Creek. Or for fitter groups a return to your car could be made by continuing on from the battery to Montgomerie Hut and the vehicle tracks down the Waitahu River.

On the forested track to Kirwans Hut

On the forested track to Kirwans Hut

Hope Arm Hut, Fiordland National Park

Tucked into exquisite Hope Arm on Lake Manapouri is a beautiful beach surrounded by forest and mountains and with a comfortable hut residing behind the beach. Hope Arm Hut forms the centrepiece of this easy family walk from Pearl Harbour, where a dinghy can be hired to cross the sleepy Wairau River, to the arm and a return through Back Valley, past Back Valley Hut, to reach the river again. Magnificent beech forest, deep forest scenery, spacious lake views and side trips to Lake Rakatu, The Monument, and Garnock Burn make this an attractive option.