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July 2013 Issue
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Top 3 cosy huts

Roaring Stag Hut. Photo: Pat Barrett

Stay warm and cosy in these three huts perfect for a winter get-away

After a cold winter day in the hills, a small hut, smoke billowing from the chimney, is about the most welcome sight a tramper can hope for.

It is often the case that many huts are accessible in half a day or less from the road end, albeit that you may have to get your feet wet in fording a river somewhere, and that’s never a pleasing thought in winter. But for all that, you can plan an extra day to do some exploring or just to relax around the fire and absorb the beauty and serenity of mountain places at a hut in winter. Chances are you’ll have it all to yourself.

Roaring Stag Hut, Tararua Forest Park

Roaring Stag Hut sits on the banks of the upper Ruamahanga River. It’s got the full embrace of the tall forest at its back and a nice high terrace above the river with a swingbridge nearby which can be crossed to access the local tops. Best of all is that pervading sense of wildness that you get when the river is your constant companion all night long.

This background sound grants peaceful nights and days and with a good fire going inside and a few friends to share it with, this could be your winter vacation for a day or two when city life gets too much. It’s got an easy bush track for access, too.

Moa Stream Hut, Craigieburn Forest Park

Tucked away in the ranges of the Canterbury high county, Moa Stream Hut could be made into a very cosy winter haven for those keen to escape well into the wilds as it lies the best part of a day’s walk up the Wilberforce Valley. It also entails crossing the Wilberforce River, which in winter can be completely dry. That’s a bonus of travelling the mid-reaches of these valleys in winter; with little run-off, the upper rivers go subterranean.

However, that’s not the case with Moa Stream which will most likely still be carrying a good volume of water. That said, once you arrive there are four bunks, a log burner, and plenty of good dry beech outside.

Ces Clark Hut, Roaring Meg Ecological Area

The West Coast’s Ces Clark Hut is reached on Croesus Track and is a must-do for any tramping enthusiast: it’s comfortable, has plenty of space, big windows, a great view and an excellent track to lead you there. It’s also on the bush edge just below the ridge top, making it easy to scamper up the track at dawn or dusk to check out the most amazing view over the Tasman Sea and south along the Alps to Aoraki/Mt Cook.

The hut lies about mid-way along the famous Croesus Track linking Blackball to Barrytown so you can carry on over the top to the sea and enjoy a beer at the Barrytown Pub, if that tickles your fancy.

The hut environs though are really top notch and there’s not much better than cranking up the firebox, climbing into your bag and reading a good book while clutching a steaming mug of tea or hot chocolate.