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Tribulation Hut via Rat Hill, Redcliffe Conservation Area

On the summit of Rat Hill with the Mt Hutt Range beyond. Photo: Dave Mitchell
Redcliffe Conservation Area
Total Ascent
Around 20km from Mount Hutt on Double Hill Run Road
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Redcliffe Conservation Area and scenic reserve were created in October 2009 as part of the tenure review process.

The reserve encompasses the Redcliffe Stream catchment to the edge of Cookies Flat. From there the Hakatere Conservation Area covers most of the Mt Hutt Range and beyond to the Ashburton Lakes.

The track is well marked as it wanders along the Redcliffe Stream terrace then joins an old dozer track. Matagouri gives way to regenerating mixed shrublands and kowhai groves. There are remnants of beech and mixed hardwood species on the west side of the stream.

The track heads up the Jack Stream confluence and over a low saddle before dropping back to Redcliffe Stream where the dozer track ends. It then climbs along a fenceline to meet the stream in the upper reaches of the reserve after gaining almost 500m from Rakaia. This is at the north end of Cookies Flat looking east to Rat Hill and behind it the snow-topped Mt Hutt Range.

Rat Hill is relatively open with short grass on the lower slopes. Short tussock and cotton daisy with a little matagouri and cassinia dominate the upper slopes, with prostrate woody native shrubs including dracophyllum amongst the south-west facing scree and bare rock slopes.

After cresting the ridge, walk along the open tops to the 1450m summit. Here, is a view with Lake Coleridge over to the north dissected by a hill pushing out from a patchwork of fields and shelter belts on a high terrace way above the far side of the Rakaia River. To the west, the entire length of the Black Hill Range stands out against the steel grey sky, sporting snow tops and basins suitable for cross country skiing.

Retreat the way you came or swing by tribulation Hut by descending south from Rat Hill. This diversion adds more than hour onto the tramp.

Tribulation Hut is a basic six bunk hut and has been reconditioned by DOC. Below the hut the Swift River has cut a deep gorge into bedrock. Its sides are steep and rugged with a rich variety of subalpine shrubs, totara trees, and exposed rock stratification. The riverbed is quite narrow with rapids, deep pools and a natural rock arch bridging the river. It’s a great place for a swim in summer.

This is a great beginner-intermediate tramp with the option of a night in Tribulation Hut and further exploration up and down the valley.