Home / Articles / Waypoints

Popular, palatial and brand new

Image of the January 2020 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
January 2020 Issue

Powell Hut, Tararua Forest Park

What a stunning spot to introduce first-timers and the kids to a night in a tramping hut. And what a hut!

There’s been a Powell Hut here for 80 years now, perched on this vantage spot, just above the bushline on the eastern edge of the Tararua Ranges. When hardy Hutt Valley Tramping Club volunteers lugged materials through the bush to build the original hut, never in a million years would they have envisioned the mod cons found at Powell Hut number five, which opened last July.

There’s a massive deck, partially covered, built for the views across bush-lined ridges to the Wairarapa plains. Inside are four separate bunkrooms, a roomy social area and kitchen, gas cookers, wood burner, solar lighting, and ventilation and fire alarm systems (two of the previous Powell Huts have burned down).

Some effort is required to reach the hut; first a gently-graded climb through beech forest then a 45-minute grunt up wooden steps built for giants, which emerges onto the subalpine tops just before the hut.

Named for pioneering Tararua tramper Ian Powell, the hut has long been popular for its quick access onto the open tops of Mt Holdsworth (1470m).

The summit is one hour’s climb beyond the hut. In summer, expect a blaze of flowering herb gardens, in winter, go prepared for a snow or ice ascent. The hut also sits on the classic Mt Holdsworth-Jumbo Circuit, a popular multi-day or staunch one day trip up to and across the tops.

Powell is described as a ‘front country’ hut, but the weather on these exposed tops can be horrendous – in fact, the new hut was built because engineers judged its predecessor to be unsafe in the high winds (up to 180km/h) and heavy snows that can occur here.

Support Wilderness

Since 1991, Wilderness has had one simple goal: to help Kiwis ‘See more, do more, live more’ of New Zealand.

If you value our mission, please consider subscribing. As a loyal supporter, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • New Zealand’s best outdoor journalism We’ve won multiple awards for our journalism and magazine production.
  • NZ’s best trips. Browse more than 610 trips with downloadable maps and route notes.
  • Trustworthy gear reviews. Each month we review gear we’ve been bashing and thrashing for months so you can determine if its worth your money.
  • Member benefits. Our WildCard provides discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.
  • Your support goes a long way. Your subscription will help us fund NZ’s best outdoor journalists and writers and ensure Wilderness will be there to inspire the next generation of outdoor Kiwis.

A subscription costs as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.