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Powell Hut out of action for summer

The exposed hut, 1330m up Mt Holdsworth, is being rebuilt after it was found to be unsafe in high winds. Photo: Jack Mace, DOC

Powell Hut in Tararua Forest Park could be closed all summer, as plans to rebuild the aging hut have again been delayed.

The hut is the most popular in the Tararuas and is part of the Holdsworth-Jumbo Circuit. It is being rebuilt after engineers found it would be unsafe in winds over 180km/h.

Initially, construction was set to start in January 2018, but that was delayed to October, which DOC said was to avoid closing the hut over summer.

But DOC ranger Jim Flack said it could now be closed from November 1 until the end of April as the rebuild will take longer than expected.

“Building the new hut is more complex than we first anticipated,” Flack said. “It will be larger, which requires more work on the foundations, excavating a bank and building a retaining wall.”

The new hut would expand from 28 to 32 bunks, which would be split between four bunk rooms, with two rooms of 10 bunks and two rooms of six bunks. It would also feature an expanded deck, a large foyer for boots and drying clothing, and a large living area with a kitchen.

Flack said he was hopeful the hut project would be completed early.

“It is unlikely to take that long, but alpine weather is unpredictable and can interrupt the best laid plans. We are taking a precautionary approach and letting people know the maximum period it might be closed so they can factor that in when they plan tramps. If the builders get good weather, the project will take less time.

“We will be letting users know of the exact closing and re-opening dates when we know them.”

How the delays will impact the cost of the project aren’t yet clear as the tender still hasn’t been finalised. Initially it was set to cost about $300,000.