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New DOC hut for east Otago

Kahikatea Lodge will be built on a ridge at the edge of the bushline in Waianakarua Scenic Reserve.

A new DOC hut is being built by a local branch of the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association in east Otago and is set to open by Christmas.

The six-bunker, dubbed Kahikatea Lodge, is being built in Waianakarua Scenic Reserve, near Moeraki. 

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association North Otago first proposed the hut two years ago and has been fundraising and working with DOC and council to get it approved. Project coordinator Barry Wilson said it will be run by DOC, but maintained by the Deerstalkers Association and will be bookable.

During the hunting season, from mid-March to the end of April, it will be very much in demand, but it’s available to everybody and hunters won’t get priority over anyone else,” Wilson said.

The hut is based on a standard DOC design and would be sited on a ridge at the edge of the tussock tops, about an hour’s walk from Mount Misery Road. Wilson said there is currently no formed track to the hut, but the club planned to build one in the near future.

The 4035ha reserve has one other hut: Staircase Hut. According to DOC, the reserve has a significant amount of kānuka forest, with tussock-covered tops on the western side and valleys filled with broadleaf, podocarp and totara and is characterised by steep terrain.

Wilson said the hut will take less than a week to build. 

“We’ll have the foundations in as soon as it warms up in spring and have the hut in place before Christmas,” he said. “The hut itself to build is not a big job – it will take less than a week with a group of volunteers.”

It is being funded by $20,000 from the Backcountry Trust, $15,000 from the Otago Community Trust, as well as club fundraising, and is expected to cost about $100,000.