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New hut coming to South Westland

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December 2018 Issue

A new hut costing $180,000 will be built by volunteers in South Westland

A new hut will be built in South Westland this summer thanks to a bequest from author and conservationist, Andy Dennis.

The eight-bunk hut will be built beside a tarn 1250m up the Mataketake Range, near Lake Dime north of Haast, and will create a new multi-day loop in the area.

The hut will be owned and managed by the Backcountry Trust. Trust manager Rob Brown said they spent months looking at a number of sites, but the Mataketake was the pick of the bunch.

“It will be the first new hut built in the World Heritage Area since it was created,” Brown said. “It’s got great views east to Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mt Tasman, west to the Tasman Sea and south towards the Haast Valley, which really gives a feel for how incredible this part of New Zealand is,” Brown said.

The hut will be accessed from SH6 near Lake Moeraki.

“The idea is to create a weekend circuit, where trampers walk an hour-and-a-half to the eight-bunk Blue River Hut, then we’re creating a poled route up to the tops, which will be five or six hours to the new hut.”

Trampers can then use a newly cut track down a ridge to the 10-bunk Maori Saddle Hut on the Haast to Paringa Cattle Track, which can be followed back to Blue River Hut and the car park.

“We want to create an accessible weekend alpine experience in the area, beyond the busy Brewster Hut.”

The hut will also make longer trips on the Mataketake Range more accessible, and the trust is investigating a longer route down to Thomas River Hut and out to Haast River.

Construction will start this summer and the hut is expected to open in April. It’s expected to cost $180,000 and be built by volunteers and a professional builder.

It will be a serviced hut with a fire, a deck, veranda, dining area and even a small library, showcasing some of Dennis’ book collection.

“Andy was an avid reader and wrote a book on South Westland and the Paparoas,” Brown said. “This will create a little library of his books in the hills.”

A long-time member of Federated Mountain Clubs and Forest and Bird, Dennis died in 2016 at the age of 72 after a battle with cancer. He bequeathed money to build a hut in the Paparoa National Park or South Westland.