Casey Hut in Arthur’s Pass National Park is set to be replaced next year, after the hut burned down in 2015.
The 16-bunk Lockwood hut was a popular weekend destination and a gateway to backcountry trips like the Casey-Binser Saddle loop.
DOC North Canterbury operations manager Kingsley Timpson said the department is investigating partnering with a private sponsor to build a hut on the site, which would double as a biosecurity hut for staff working with the critically endangered orange-fronted parakeet.
If a sponsor isn’t forthcoming, the department will shift the 10-bunk Poulter Hut down-valley to the Casey Hut site.
Poulter Hut was built in 2003 and provides access to Lake Minchin. But Timpson said relocating Poulter was the only cost-effective option if further funding couldn’t be found.
The hut could be relocated by autumn next year.
The announcement comes after Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC) lobbied DOC to replace Casey Hut. Initially, DOC recommended not replacing the hut, as it said there were similar experiences in the park and the popularity of tramping in the region was declining.
In response, FMC surveyed its club members and found 94 per cent supported rebuilding the hut, while support was split on whether relocating another hut would be acceptable, with 44 per cent supporting a relocation, and 43 per cent opposing it.
According to the hut book, 530 people stayed at Casey Hut each year, putting it in the top 20 per cent of huts for occupancy.
A 2016 DOC report on the future of Casey Hut also recommended reducing the number of huts and tracks in Arthur’s Pass National Park, when the park’s plan is next reviewed. The report recommended ‘rationalising all overnight/multiday tramping experiences’ in order to reduce the number of ‘high-cost assets’ serving moderate to experienced trampers. The park’s management plan is currently overdue to be reviewed.