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April 2018 Issue
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Huts are full

Waitawheta Hut has been booking out every Saturday for up to eight weeks. Photo: Matthew Pike

If you live in New Zealand’s biggest city and want to do a weekend tramp at a bookable hut close by, you are going to have to wait a while.

The majority of the huts in the region are bookable and every one of them, from Whangarei to the Kaimai Range, are booking out weeks in advance for the coveted Saturday night slot. When Wilderness checked in early March, some were booked out every Saturday for two months.

Peach Cove Hut (eight bunks), at Bream Head, was booked out for every Saturday for six weeks. In the Coromandel, Crosbies Hut (10 bunks) was only free for one Saturday before the end of April. The 80-bunk Pinnacles Hut was closed until the end of March as DOC tries to repair the main access road, but when it reopens, it’s booked out every Saturday until mid-May.

In the Kaimai Ranges, the 26-bunk Waitawheta Hut was booked out every Saturday for eight weeks in a row. That makes for slim pickings for Aucklanders – the region has fewer DOC huts than some South Island valleys.

Given the high demand for huts in the region, does DOC have any plans to expand facilities?

DOC director of recreation, tourism and heritage Gavin Walker said DOC doesn’t plan on building any new huts in the upper North Island, but it would continue to monitor the demand for huts.

He said the bookable huts had capacity on Friday nights and during the week and DOC had built new huts in the region in the past 15 years: Pahautea Hut, Crosbies Hut and Waitawheta Hut. Further afield, in the upper North Island, DOC had built a further four huts, Motukawanui Hut on Motukawanui Island, Mt Heale Hut on Great Barrier Island, Hauhungaroa Hut in Pureora Forest Park and Waiopaoa Hut on the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk.

Most of these new huts require travel times in excess of two hours from Auckland, making them less attractive for a weekend trip. Here at Wilderness, we still think there’s room, and demand, for a few more huts closer to Auckland.