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August 2015 Issue
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Roadman’s Shelter

Photo: Rob Brown
1.5hr return walk from Arthur’s Pass village
The hut can be accessed from the roadside or by taking the Arthur’s Pass Walking Track from Arthur’s Pass village Grade Easy
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Historic Jacks Hut, Arthur’s Pass National Park

There can be few huts easier to tick off than Jacks Hut on SH73.

It’s the last surviving roadman’s hut from a time when it wasn’t machinery that kept the pass open but hard toil from men with shovels and picks.

The hut was built in 1879 at Rough Creek, near present day Arthur’s Pass village, and shifted to its current site in 1909. By 1923, the opening of the rail tunnel and improvements to the road had made the job of the roadman obsolete and the hut was sold to the Butler family who used it as a holiday crib for nearly 70 years. But by the early 1990s it had fallen into disrepair and had become a target for vandals. Recognising the historic nature of the hut, the Butlers gifted it to the Department of Conservation in 2003 and it was restored to its original condition in 2004.

It now sits on on the Arthur’s Pass Walking Track, which is used by around 30,000 people a year.

To really appreciate how tough life was for both the road worker and the family that lived there, it’s best to visit the hut in the depth of winter when this part of the Alps feels the sun for just a few hours a day. These days the road still gets closed after heavy snowfall with the landscape transformed after a fluffy duvet of snow, as it was on this occasion I visited.