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Dorset Ridge Hut, Tararua Forest Park

Photo: Nathan Bellamy
Tararua Forest Park
2-3 days
Mitre Flats Hut (serviced, 14 bunks); Tarn Ridge Hut (standard, 16 bunks); Dorset Ridge Hut (standard, six bunks)
The Pines car park at the end of Upper Waingawa Road
BN34, BP34
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Getting to the hard-to-reach and seldom-visited Dorset Ridge Hut requires an early start and a long day’s tramp.

The first half hour follows a gravel farm road and short section of farmland before entering the bush at the forest park boundary and joining the Barra Track all the way to Mitre Flats Hut.

From Mitre Flats Hut, the slog up to 1571m Mitre Peak, the highest point in the park, begins. Water is scarce on the tops, so fill up before leaving.

The first part of the climb involves reasonable bush travel and is well marked. A small campsite on the bush edge marks the transition onto the open tops. The ground steepens and it becomes a grunt to Mitre. In anything other than perfect weather, navigation skills and weatherproof gear are essential.

From Mitre, the rest of the trip to Dorset Ridge Hut is above the bushline, there are no DOC markers and only a vague ground trail and intermittent rock cairns to follow.

A steep rock scramble down the north-west face of Mitre leads to a saddle which then plods up to Brockett, 1538m. From there, follow the ridge south-west over a couple of bumps before a push up onto Girdlestone.

Tarn Ridge is to the west and requires a bit of steep rock scrambling to reach and shortly after is the turn-off to Dorset Ridge. Dorset Ridge is broad and has only a vague ground trail leading to a side track to Dorset Ridge Hut. The hut, an ex-Forest Service six bunker lovingly upgraded in 2008, offers fantastic views of Girdlestone, Adkin, the Three Kings, Broken Axe Pinnacles and McGregor.

This trip can be made easier by extending to three days and staying at Mitre Flats Hut on the way in or out. **