The most popular hut in the Tararua Ranges has been rebuilt and is back open for business.
The hut has been built to meet the needs of modern users and to make the most of the spectacular views of the Wairarapa Valley from 1200m. It has a new deck and an enlarged sleeping area that can accommodate 32 people.
“We’ve designed it for what today’s trampers are looking for,” said DOC Wairarapa Operations Manager Kathy Houkamau. “Over 800 users helped advise us on what they wanted in a hut, and we’ve invested time and resources to provide that.
“The overwhelming response from people was, don’t move it. Users value the panoramic views of Wairarapa more than anything else, so we have tripled the size of the deck, provided seating and partially covered it.
Powell Hut is the most popular hut in Tararua Forest Park with over 3000 bed-nights a year. The original hut was built in 1939 by the Hutt Valley Tramping Club, which rebuilt it in 1981. This burnt down in 1999, and a third hut was built in 2000. In November last year, the hut was closed as it suffered from weather-tightness problems that weakened the overall structure.
“The new hut has been designed to withstand extreme weather. There are still a few cosmetic jobs to complete, but we wanted to get the hut open as soon as it was safe to use,” said Houkamau.
Houkamau warned no one should take the trip to Powell Hut lightly. “The weather changes quickly and people need to be prepared for wet, cold and windy conditions with limited visibility on any day of the year, regardless of season.”
DOC Volunteer Hut Warden Brett Gillies of Tawa will be amongst the first wave of people to experience the new facilities. He attended the opening before hiking up to the hut – which has been fully booked for its inaugural weekend.
“I’m looking forward to sharing the hut’s legacy with everyone that stays over the weekend,” said Mr Gillies.
Powell Hut was closed in November 2018 to be demolished and rebuilt on the same site. Engineers had found it was no longer safe in extremely high winds (180km/h+) or heavy snow loadings.
A stay in the hut costs $15 for adults and $7.50 for children a night and booking can be made online.