In clear weather, the Tararuas offer lovely views and, arguably, some of the best can be enjoyed between Mt Hector and Elder Hut, which sits just above the bush line at 1110m. From its cute little deck, or from the clearing just above the hut, you can enjoy expansive views, especially to the west. The hut has just four bunks and visitors can arrive at any time – as I discovered when three intrepid souls walked through the door at 2am.
If you can tolerate the down-and-up slog required to carry on from Elder Hut, past the bush-enclosed Renata Hut (670m) and over Kapakapanui (1102m), it’s rather satisfying to gaze back and relive your journey along Renata Ridge, around the Dress Circle from Mt Hector and all the way back to Otaki Forks.
The less logistically challenging option is to take the longer but mostly downhill route out along the Waiotauru River to Otaki Forks. Just branch off at Maymorn Junction (822m) above Renata Hut. Either way, you’ll have the chance to enjoy the sparkle of sunset and sunrise from the little gem that is Elder Hut.
– Peter Laurenson
Access Otaki Forks car park
Time Otaki Forks to Elder Hut via Mt Hector, 6-8hr; Mt Hector to Elder Hut, 3-4hr; Elder Hut to Otaki Forks via Waiotauru River, 8-10hr
Total ascent 3318m