- One-two days from either end (summer); three-five days (winter)
- Royal Hut (free, eight bunks); Stone Hut (free, eight bunks); Crooked Spur Hut (free, eight bunks)
- Bush Stream car park at the end of Rangitata Gorge Road, or Round Hill Ski Area, off Lilybank Road
Reportedly once visited by Princess Diana and Prince Charles, Royal Hut is a challenging destination to reach in winter. Whether you approach from Round Hill Ski Area or Mesopotamia Station, expect big ascents, deep snow and many river crossings.
In winter, prepare yourself for delays and slow wading through deep snow – it’s best to bring snowshoes for the alpine areas to make progress more bearable.
The hut itself is basic; it has eight bunks, tin walls and a small fireplace which doesn’t do much for heating, but does help to dry wet gear from the river crossings.
The hut book records few winter visitors and those who do come tend to be backcountry skiers. In summer, a steady stream of Te Araroa Trail walkers regularly pass through.
From Royal Hut you can continue on towards the Round Hill Ski Area (Boundary Creek car park) which provides gorgeous views of nearby Lake Tekapo.