Venture beyond McLean Falls to visit an unusual hut given a new lease on life after a restoration has seen it become an easily-accessible overnight destination for trampers.
Tautuku Hut is essentially a shed that was donated to DOC by ex-All Black and the local Skyline Garages franchisee Laurie Mains.
Mains converted the garage and donated it to DOC to be placed in what’s known locally as ‘Sandys Clearing’ as a temporary base for goat culling. That was 30 years ago and the hut is looking better than ever thanks to the work of the volunteers of Permolat Southland. Recent work includes a complete renovation of the hut, the addition of a deck and a new toilet.
The track begins at McLean Falls car park and crosses Duckaday Creek before veering to the left. A short walk along the edge of farmland leads to a steady climb through the forest until a plateau is reached at around 160m. Through the canopy at the edge of the plateau, views stretch across rolling hills clad in lush rainforest and beyond that the Southern Ocean stretches to the horizon.
From this point, the track is easy going, lazily dancing through the lush forest until reaching its high point at around 300m. The trail then drops 60m to the hut.
Despite its origin as a shed, the four bunk hut offers both comfort and character. Its location makes it a perfect destination for those looking for something a little bit more adventurous and it’s an achievable goal for families and those new to tramping. Include the opportunity to visit the magnificent McLean Falls and the trip quickly becomes an irresistible overnight proposition in the Catlins.
On the return, you could take the 40-minute there-and-back trail to McLean Falls. The falls are fed by the Tautuku River, which runs past the hut. The tea-coloured water plummets 22m, forming a powerful cascade over a number of terraces.