A new 12-bunk hut will be built in Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park this summer as part of a project to build four huts over the next four years.
The project is being run by the Kaimai Ridgeway Trust, which represents tramping and deerstalkers clubs from Auckland, Waikato, the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty.
The first hut, Te Whare Okioki (or resting place) would be built in the southern part of the park, near Ngamuwahine Shelter, and would have a woodburner and even solar power for lighting and cellphone chargers.
Trust chair Roger Montgomerie said it planned to build the huts along the tops of the Kaimai Range, about a day’s walk apart, as part of a five or six day walk.
The network of huts would mean people could walk the length of the range, from SH29 to the Karangahake Gorge, without having to camp.
Montgomerie said there was a lack of huts in the upper North Island, so they would be a popular addition.
“They will be within two hours drive of half of New Zealand’s population,” he said. “The huts that are up there get a lot of use over the weekend, but there’s just not enough of them.”
Trust secretary and Auckland Tramping Club president Tony Walton said the range was quite exposed, so new huts would make the forest park much more attractive to trampers.
The trust formed about two years ago. Its first project was restoring and upgrading Te Rereatukahia Hut, which now has a new woodburner.
The trust has an agreement with DOC to manage and maintain about 160km of tracks and six existing huts in Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park, including two 12-bunk huts and four small Forest Service huts. DOC still manages the 26-bunk Waitawheta Hut.
The new hut will be built by the Bay of Plenty branch of the NZ Deerstalkers Association and is expected to cost about $140,000, funded by the Outdoor Recreation Consortium and private donations. Construction is expected to start before Christmas and the hut should be open by April next year.
It will be built out of lightweight concrete blocks and panels and have a large covered deck.
Eventually the hut will be added to DOC’s online hut booking system and is expected to cost about $20 a night.