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August 2021 Issue
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Fundraiser for new Middlemarch hut

The new hut (top) will replace the historic Leaning Lodge Hut on the Rock and Pillar Range

A tramping club is hoping to raise $170,000 to replace a historic hut 1220m up the Rock and Pillar Range above Middlemarch.

Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club member John Cocks said the hut will replace the old Leaning Lodge Hut, which was built by the Otago Ski Club in 1958. The tramping club bought the hut in the 1970s after the ski club moved to Coronet Peak, but the hut was closed in the 1990s after the land became part of the DOC estate and it was deemed unsafe. The club upgraded the hut in 2014, but it was still deemed non-compliant and has been closed since.

Now, after seven years, the club has decided to rebuild the hut, while salvaging materials from the old hut to retain its character where possible.

The club has permission from DOC and the council and has developed designs for a 10-bunker, with a deck with views over Middlemarch and the surrounding ranges.

“It will have big windows with a great view over Middlemarch,” Cocks said.  

Now the club just needs the money. It has formed a trust, started a Give-a-Little page and has applied for a grant from the Backcountry Trust. It’s hoped that will raise enough to finance the rebuild “unless some benefactor comes along with a pot of money that makes us smile ear-to-ear,” he said.

Cocks said construction is planned to begin next summer and the hut to be open by 2023, in time for the club’s centenary. 

The hut is accessed via the 4WD Kinvara Track and is about a 4hr walk with a steep ascent to just below the summit plateau of the Rock and Pillar Range.