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Thompsons Flat Hut, Lewis Pass National Reserve

Thompson Flat Hut. Photo: Mark Watson
Lewis Pass National Reserve
Manson-Nicholls Memorial Hut ($15, 24 bunks); Thompsons Flat Hut (free, four bunks)
Marble Hill car park, Lewis Pass Highway
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Ringed with mature beech forest and gentle peaks, Lake Daniell is a jewel of a location and is suited to trampers with kids or those looking for something cruisy or a low elevation option in bad weather.

Just north of the lake is Thompsons Flat Hut, a less busy hut than the Manson-Nicholls Memorial hut located on the lake shore.

From the Marble Hill parking area on the Lewis Pass Highway, the well-graded trail passes first the Sluice Box, an interesting fault through which the Maruia River runs. If you’re lucky you might spot trout here. The track then follows the flanks of the Alfred River and then Frazer Stream to the outlet at the southern end of the lake. The easy track weaves through mature beech forest and mossy terraces, with gentle gradients and boardwalks over the boggy sections.

The Manson-Nicholls Memorial Hut is located on a grassy flat where the track meets the lake and is a modern 24-bunk DOC hut with a log burning stove. The hut was built by volunteers as a memorial to Brian and Sharon Manson and Phillip Nicholls, three young trampers who were killed in 1974 by a landslide while they sheltered from a severe storm in the old Lake Daniell Fishing Club Hut, situated at the northern end of the lake. Ther’s plenty of camping space here too and it,s a popular fly fishing spot.

Those looking for a longer walk (or to get more solitude if the hut is busy) can either camp at any one of a number of spots along the eastern or northern lake edge or walk on to Thompsons Flat following an old 4WD track. At the large clearing there is an unmaintained (but serviceable) ex forest service hut. While the clearing here is not as pretty as Lake Daniell, it’s still a nice spot to spend a night. Note that Thompsons Flat and the hut are private, but open to public access. Permission is not required, but please show respect while you are in the area.