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June 2020 Issue
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Top Forks Huts, Mt Aspiring National Park. Photo: Shaun Barnett/Black Robin Photography

The word ‘forks’ suggests a choice of routes – a convergence, a place of meeting. 

In the backcountry, we use the prosaic but descriptive name for the junction of rivers, and often enough the topography at these junctures is suitable for locating a hut. By my count, there are at least 18 public huts with the name ‘Forks’ in their title, ranging from Koranga Forks in the Bay of Plenty to Aparima Forks in Southland.

At least three parks have multiple Forks huts: Ruahine Forest Park boasts four (Ikawatea Forks, Maropea Forks, Waipawa Forks and Forks Hut), Kahurangi National Park has three (Waingaro Forks, Anatoki Forks and Mokihinui Forks), while there are two each for Tararua Forest Park (Neill Forks and Arete Forks) and Mt Aspiring National Park (Kerin Forks and Top Forks).

And at least two Forks have more than one hut on site: Boulder Forks in Marlborough’s Raglan Ranges has two  as does Top Forks in the Wilkin Valley.

Here are six Forks huts to visit.

Koranga Forks Hut, Waioeka Conservation Area
This attractive six-bunk hut occupies a pleasant spot at the junction of the Koranga River and Kahunui Stream. It’s reached on a bush track from Moanui Road in 2.5-3hr.

Maropea Forks Hut, Ruahine Forest Park
This is the second hut on this site, built by DOC and the New Zealand Army in 2013–14 to replace an earlier NZFS model. The six-bunk hut can be reached from the east via Sparrowhawk Biv and the tops, or by following the Maropea River from Top Maropea Hut. Either way takes about two days.

Arete Forks, Tararua Forest Park
A group of former deer cullers calling themselves ‘ex-NZFS’ have been doing remarkable work on many huts and bivs in the Tararua Range, and Arete Forks Hut (six bunks) is a prime example. Note, however, that the track to reach it from Cow Creek Hut is notorious for being the worst in the park. Otherwise, the hut can be approached over the tops and down Pinnacle Spur. Either way takes about two days.

Mokihinui Forks, Kahurangi National Park
Mokihinui Forks used to be a seldom-used hut, but thanks to the development of The Old Ghost Road, that’s all changed. The 10-bunk hut lies on the edge of a great junction of several large rivers and marks the entrance of the Mokihinui River Gorge. The hut can be reached on foot in 5-7hr, or in 3-5hr by mountain bike.

Top Forks Huts, Mt Aspiring National Park
Top Forks is a grand location in one of the most attractive national parks. Two huts, an older mustering hut, recently superbly done-up by the Backcountry Trust, sits alongside a larger hut from the Lands and Survey era. Towering above the huts are the impressive glaciated ramparts of Castor and Pollux, both peaks are over 2500m. Top Forks makes a great destination in its own right, or as overnight accommodation on the Waterfall Face route into the Matukituki. It’s about 7-10hr walk from Kerin Forks Hut, which is accessible by jet boat.

Aparima Forks, Takitimu Mountains
The most southerly of the ‘Forks Huts’ in the country, this two-bunk hut occupies the junction in the Takitimu Conservation Area. It can be reached in about 4-5hr from the Dunrobin Valley Road, passing Aparima Hut en route.