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Kōhanga Atawhai – Manson Nicholls Hut, Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve

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October 2021 Issue

Generations of families and fishers have been lured to Lake Daniell where a modern new hut awaits visitors in a beautiful setting.

The easy track to the lake follows the Alfred River after first crossing over the Maruia River on a high bridge suspended over a natural feature known as the Sluice Box. This remarkable canyon cuts through a forested spur just minutes north of the car park and is itself worth a visit for those with just a few minutes to spare; there are usually trout here. 

Beyond the canyon, the trail leads around the edge of river flats bordering the Alfred River before heading gently into the valley through tall stands of majestic red beech. 

About an hour up, the track climbs around a small gorge. Just before this, river access is possible at an attractive little terrace.

The gorge section follows the contour of the hillside and passes over several side streams until opposite Pell Stream, near which is the ‘Troll Bridge’, the marked halfway point to the hut. From here, the track is near the riverside again where the gorge is intermittent until the small flats at the junction of the Alfred River and Frazer Stream. 

It is less than an hour from this point to the hut. It’s a slow climb through more magnificent forest until the lake edge is reached and shortly after the large new hut.

The Kôhanga Atawhai – Manson Nicholls Hut was completed in June 2020. It replaced the earlier structure which was built as a memorial to three trampers who were killed in a landslide in 1974 at the now removed fishing club hut on the opposite side of the lake. 

The hut and its setting is spacious and beautiful, with two separate bunk rooms, a large communal area and north-facing deck, solar lights and an ample camping area along with a covered cooking shelter for larger parties.

There’s a fire pit near the lakeshore and a jetty. All in all a superb venue for a first trip away with young children and teenagers.

15.8km return
Total Ascent
2.5-3hr to the hut
Manson Nicholls Hut ($15, 20 bunks)
At Marble Hill Campsite off SH7, just east of Springs Junction.
BT22, BT23

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