Hidden away not far from Lake Heron is the well-preserved and quaint Double Hut.
It’s a nine-kilometre walk from the road end car park and the hut is easy to reach in three hours, which can allow the opportunity to also climb the nearby hills for epic views.
Heading from the car park beside Lake Heron, the Swin River Track skirts the lakeshore on a 4WD track and winds around Lake Hill before leading to a flat tussock valley surrounded by mountains. The gradient is almost imperceptible, the track is well marked and is easy going for most hikers.
The tussock, while beautiful, doesn’t provide any shelter from the elements so be prepared with your sunscreen or warm clothes as required. Watch for the geckos sunbathing in the dust and darting through the dry tussock.
We followed the poled route up the valley for just over 7km until reaching a clearly marked DOC sign at the intersection with the Te Araroa Trail. At this point Double Hut is just 30-minutes away.
The trail then drops down a small terrace to Swin River North Branch, which is shallow but fast flowing. It is the first water you see after leaving the car park and is easily forded provided there hasn’t been heavy rain.
After crossing the river, we came to another track junction and turned to head up the gradually-ascending track to the hut.
Double Hut is an old musterers hut built in the early 1900s. Since then it has been extended and is now a basic six-bunker with a fireplace and rustic table. The interior walls are liberally graffitied with the names and dates of previous mustering teams. Many hikers have added their names beneath.
The hut is a short walk from the Swin River South Branch – the hut’s water source. There’s a fireplace, but wood is hard to find in this terrain.
Directly south of the hut and across the Swin River is Pt1201, which we decided to climb. It’s an easy to moderate climb, first up to Pt1115 and from there in a southeasterly direction onto a ridge leading to Pt1201. From this highpoint, unobstructed views extend in all directions across Longmans
Range and surrounding mountains. It’s well worth the effort.
– Curtis Stallworthy
- 12.6km to Pt1201 (9km to hut)
- Total Ascent
- 580m to Pt1201
- Car park to Double Hut, 3hr; Hut to Pt1201, 1hr
- Double Hut (free, six bunks)
- From the Hakatere Heron Road at Lake Heron. There is 4WD access until the Lake Hill Track
- Double Hut (gpx, )
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