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Tough job painting Canterbury huts

Henderson's family and NZAC volunteers spent six days painting the two huts. Photo: Jim Henderson

Two huts in the Canterbury region have a new coat of paint, thanks to volunteers from the New Zealand Alpine Club and DOC.

A group of eight painted Tarn and Youngman Stream huts in the Puketeraki Forest Conservation Area in January. Taking advantage of a weather window, the group used a quad bike to get the donated paint, supplies, and a week’s worth of food to Tarn Hut.  

DOC Rangiora ranger Jim Henderson organised the painting, which he said wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance from a group of NZAC volunteers.

“In the DOC scheme of things, they’re lesser used, so don’t feature high on our priority list. But they still need TLC,” Henderson said.

The huts are both former forest service huts; Tarn, which Henderson describes as “idyllic,” has four bunks; Youngman Stream is a six-bunker. They’re both located on a Puketeraki Range circuit, which he said is a good weekend trip for people who live in Christchurch.

“It’s more of a route than a track up the valley – one of the more challenging ones,” Henderson said.

Henderson’s family; his wife Claire and their children Mari and Hamish, plus four volunteers from the NZAC Christchurch section, started with Tarn hut, which hadn’t had any maintenance in nearly 20 years.

Henderson said it was quite challenging conditions, painting Tarn Hut in gale force winds. “It was quite an act trying to hold onto the paint at times, to get it on the hut rather than throughout the environment and the vegetation,” Henderson said.

The group carried the supplies and remaining paint to Youngman Stream Hut, roughly two hours away. “That required some pretty heavy packing – and we nearly got blown off the ridge in the process,” he said.

In addition to the obvious aesthetic improvement, painting protects the hut cladding, which is vital for these old huts, Henderson said.

“They’re in very good condition, they’re excellent examples of that style of forest service hut,” he said. “Because it’s a very dry area – in a rain shadow – they’re very well preserved, with little rust or corrosion. However, the paint work was woeful. They were definitely due for a bit of a spruce-up.”

Ideally, he’d like to see old huts painted every 10 years to keep them in good shape.