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Douglas Rock Hut, Westland National Park

Douglas Rock Hut. Photo: Jo Carpenter
Westland National Park
23.2km one way
Total Ascent
7hr to hut
Architect Creek Hut, two bunks; Welcome Flat Hut, 31 bunks; Douglas Rock Hut eight bunks
SH26, 26km south of Fox Glacier
BX14, BX15
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This is a journey up one of the most spectacular valleys in Westland.The track begins by following the true right of the Karangarua River, sidling through dewy flats and sun-splintered podocarp forest. After an hour you reach the confluence of the Karangarua and Copland rivers, where the track drops off a terrace to the schist-studded bank of the Copland River, which is a beautiful translucent turquoise, with plenty of swimming holes.

Follow the river along gently undulating terrain before reaching Architect Creek Hut. From here the track climbs to a rocky spur for the only incline of the day. It,s a well-graded, gentle climb and, through the trees are glimpses of the formidable Sierra Range. After crossing the swingbridge at Shiels Creek, drop down to Welcome Flat Hut; a sophisticated two-story affair with gabled windows, solar panels and the nearby hot springs. Cross to the true left of the Copland River to continue on to Douglas Rock Hut.

The track meanders along Welcome Flat, passing through open river terraces and patches of stunted bush. Active slip zones, alluvial flotsam and eroding peaks all serve as constant reminders of how dynamic this landscape is.After crossing Scott Creek, the valley narrows considerably and you begin weaving up and over small creeks and rocky inclines.Cross Tekano Stream to reach the hut – an eight-bunker with a cheerful maroon roof, situated in a forest glade at the edge of the bushline.

The hut placement is sensational, with stunning views of the Aurora and Navigator ranges.