Awapoto Hut, Abel Tasman National Park
Awapoto Hut is a little bastion of comfort 5km from the roadside car park and 300m higher. It has a narrow winding track all the way to its secluded and seldom-visited site on a high windswept, yet heavily forested, ridgetop.
The trail passes through dark and moist rainforest before breaking out into grasslands and scrubby cover where cleared portions of Wainui Bay farms impinge on the native forest and drive it back off the ridge for almost two kilometres. The clearing is not all that unwelcome, for it provides a spectacular view of the inlet and farther out into Golden Bay.
The trail traverses the rest of the open ridge and then plunges back into the forest for the last haul up a sub-summit to reach the hut turn-off at 670m.
The hut commands its site and stares out over the Awaroa Inlet and beyond into Tasman Bay and its far-off mountain ranges. It feels like a hilltop fortress with a powerful sense of directing the eyes of visitors outwards to that amazing view.