You can’t beat Kime on a fine day
Kime Hut is a secluded weekend getaway in the Tararuas – if you can handle the five-hour uphill slog. Multiple routes from Kime Hut provide many options for further hiking or simply a return trip back to the car park.
The tramp starts at Otaki Forks with a crossing of the swingbridge which provides access to the western side of the Tararuas. The track meanders across grassy plains for a short time, then it’s straight up a steep zigzag gravel track for about an hour, gaining 500m in height.
Field Hut is reached in a further 90-minutes and is a good place to stop for lunch. The terrain then changes to tussock as the snowline is reached. The views over Kapiti are stunning from this point on.
The next two hours of scrambling up rock and tramping through muddy tussock, mound after mound, along Judd Ridge, is my favourite part of the route. The final incline to gain the summit of Bridge Peak (1421m) is a particular favourite. I have walked this in both sunshine and in a freezing cold blizzard and both make for excellent experiences.
The broad summit of Bridge Peak can be swampy, but Kime Hut is just a few minutes away from this point – a welcome refuge in the not unlikely scenario that you have experienced poor conditions. Statistically, just one in seven days are clear in the Tararuas. When the weather forecast is clear, Kime Hut fills up fast.
According to DOC, the first Kime Hut was opened in 1930 and was named after E. J. Kime, who died on the Southern Crossing in 1922. In 1978, the Tararua Tramping Club and the New Zealand Forest Service replaced the original hut. The current hut was built and opened in 2014.
Once settled in, it’s worth climbing to the ridge-edge just above the hut to watch the sunset over Kapiti Island and for views to the South Island. Field Peak, 10-minutes away, provides a stunning vantage from which to view the sunrise. Expect epic views from Wellington to the Wairarapa and Kapiti coast.
If you’ve got time, the two-hour round trip to Mt Hector and the memorial cross is worthwhile.
– Peter Sim