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February 2018 Issue
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Generous donor pays for new Canterbury hut

The new hut is expected to be popular with Te Araroa Trail walkers and a good overnighter for families

A new six-bunk hut has opened in North Canterbury, thanks to a generous donation from a retired Timaru farmer.

The new Waiau Hut opened in January and is in a sheltered clearing on the Waiau Pass Track, which is part of the Lewis Pass-Waiau Pass-Blue Lake route and on the Te Araroa Trail.

Retired Timaru farmer Robert Birks approached DOC, offering to donate money to be used to build a hut two years ago as a way to give back to the tramping community.

“I’ve been tramping for over  40 years and I’ve had many wonderful days in the hills. Now in older age with a bit of money behind me, I want to give something back,” Birks said. “I thought this would be a good way of displaying my thanks and my hope that future generations will be able to enjoy the same sorts of facilities I’ve been able to enjoy over the years.”

The South Canterbury Tramping Club member is still tramping and says the Canterbury high country is a special area for him – Birks first tramped in the Waiau Valley about 40 years ago.

“The hut is in a superb location, facing north looking up the Waiau Valley and protected by bush to the south,” he said.

The hut cost $155,000, all of which was paid for by Birks.  DOC chose the location and design of the hut. It replaces the two-bunk Caroline Creek Bivouac, which was located further up the valley and was becoming increasingly popular as part of the Te Araroa Trail.

DOC’s North Canterbury operations manager Kingsley Timpson said the hut is about 90-minutes’ walk from the end of the 4WD track which leads deep into the Waiau Valley, or three-and-a-half hours over Maling Pass from the Tophouse Road car park.

“It’s opening up a fantastic short walk opportunity for first-time backcountry families who are considering a safe experience,” Timpson said

The hut is a standard design, with a fire for cooking and heating and costs $5 a night.

It was officially opened on January 27.