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New hut opens on Quail Island

Otamahua Hut opened this month. Photo: Vanessa Mander/DOC

A new DOC hut has opened on Otamahua/Quail Island, enabling trampers to stay overnight and explore the 81ha pest-free reserve near Christchurch.

Otamahua Hut was a 108-year-old caretakers cottage which has recently been restored to be used as a 12 bunk hut.

The island is a 10-minute ferry ride from Lyttelton and features a number of beaches and a 4.5km track, which provides a circuit of the island.

“Ōtamahua/Quail Island has a fascinating history,” Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said.

“Over the last 20 years the Ōtamahua/Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust has focused on pest eradication and extensive replantings and restoration work which have enhanced the island’s natural environment. It is a great place to visit.”

The interior of the new hut

The cottage has been restored thanks to a $28,000 donation from the Rod Donald Trust, set up in honour of the former Green Party co-leader, and the Ōtamahua/Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust, which contributed to the redesign. Macpac also provided mattresses for the hut.

The cottage was built in about 1910, largely by prisoners from the Lyttelton Jail, and was used as a caretaker’s cottage until the early 1980s.

Ōtamahua/Quail Island was used by Māori as a base for mahinga kai, or food gathering, and was farmed from the 1850s before it became a recreation reserve in the 1970s. The island was used as a quarantine station for animals and people and was the site of New Zealand’s only leprosy quarantine colony.

The hut is bookable and costs $15 a bunk.

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