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Ballarat Hut

Ballarat Hut. Photo: Emma Richardson
Mt Aurum Recreation Reserve and Ballarat Creek Conservation Area
Total Ascent
Archie’s Hut, three bunks; Ballarat Hut, three bunks
Follow Skippers Road to the car park at Skippers Creek Homestead and campsite. Take Bullendale Track
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A solid day’s walk to the goldfields, up from the old homestead at Skippers Creek, travelling through the gorge, pushing through giant stands of beautifully weedy lupins in shades of pink, purple and white.

Bypass a small dam – one of many remnants of the pioneering past of this place, which included as its feats not only gold mining, but also the first hydroelectric power plant in New Zealand. The blue pool at the confluence of Skippers Creek Left Branch offers a good place to take a dip.

Bypassing Dynamo Hut, and the gloomy Dynamo Red Hut, wander on up-valley, side-stepping the odd clump of Spaniard, to emerge in the lovely tussock basin that is home to Archie’s (or Copper Creek) Hut. This is a real character place, with beech pole framing and bunks. Push on up to the head of the valley, sidling incised gullies and edging up chunky scree towards the saddle west of Pt1872.

Reaching the ridgeline, drop down the other side on a series of steep spurs running into Ballarat Creek. Travel is a little less user-friendly here, with Spaniards, a few steep bits, and then little grovels around cascades in the stream. Eventually, the contours level out as you climb onto the edge of a small terrace to appear directly beside Ballarat Hut.

Legend has it that the hut was built by a local runholder using materials salvaged from the Bullendale settlement when that was abandoned after the goldrush. Retrace your steps to a spur coming down from Prince of Wales, 1734m, and take this to below the summit, crossing into Skippers Creek Right Branch. Down in the valley once more, it’s an easy plod out among more gold mining relics and races.