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January 2016 Issue
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Renovated hut defies reputation

Taking a break on Isabelle Photo: Jess Clark
Tararua Forest Park
Total Ascent
Mid Waiohine Hut ($5, 6 bunks)
Mount Holdsworth Road end

Mid Waiohine Hut, Tararua Forest Park

We had low expectations for our trip to Mid Waiohine Hut. It’s not well used and at one time had a reputation for being a bit of a dive. We planned to visit, simply to say we had bagged it, but it turned out to be a far nicer trip than expected.

There are a couple of ways to reach the hut, with the easiest and quickest being over Mt Holdsworth.

We started on Friday night, walking to Powell Hut by torchlight. The track is well maintained, making travel, even at night, an easy two hours.

With most of the climbing already done, it didn’t take long to reach the summit of Mt Holdsworth the next morning. With glorious weather, we were treated to spectacular views in all directions.

We carried on along the ridge to the next high point, Isabelle (1385m), before beginning the descent to Mid Waiohine Hut. The ridge has a gentle slope until just above the river, when it drops more sharply.

Mid Waiohine Hut sits above the river in a beautiful sunny clearing. We found the hut had been recently revamped and painted a vibrant orange. It had been taken care of by a group called ‘exNZFS’ – a volunteer group of former deer cullers working to protect original Forest Service huts. The inside was clean and mould free, with plenty of freshly cut firewood.

What had been a gentle wander down the ridge from Isabelle was a much tougher proposition in reverse.

Back on Isabelle, we discovered a motherlode of snowberries – small, sweet, white or pinkish berries found above the bushline and mainly filled with water. We spent a good hour resting in the sun and eating these sweet treats.

Eventually we pulled ourselves away from this beautiful spot and ascended Holdsworth once more.

We arrived at a packed Powell Hut just on dinner time, took one look at each other and kept going. Both Powell and Jumbo can get very busy on a Saturday night and have booking systems over the summer months because of this. We went on to Mountain House Shelter instead.

This shelter is pretty basic and more suitable as a resting point, as it only has three walls. It does however have water and benches, so we made dinner and pulled out our bed rolls to sleep on the floor.

We had just finished breakfast when the first early risers from Powell arrived, so we packed up quickly and headed down the mountain.
– Sarah Miller