By Don Farmer
Work has been completed on refurbishing Cattle Ridge Hut in the northern Tararua Ranges.
Among the first to visit the restored hut was a tramping party from Rathkeale College, who gave the hut the once over just two days after workmen had finished.
They had also been using the hut only four days prior to the work being completed.
Joe Nawalaniec, who took the college party into the ranges, said some art work from Noel Fraser who was part of the original hut building team in the summer of 1960-61, was uncovered and left in place before the builders relined the hut.
Cattle Ridge Hut is now bigger than it was originally and has double glazed windows and insulation installed.
It also now has a large, detached woodshed.
Mr Nawalaniec said all it needed now was a woodburner and “a plaque honouring Tony Macklin who was the driving force behind the rebuild to be put up”.
“It remains, uniquely, the only five-bunk hut in the ranges, the sixth bed having been mysteriously removed in the late 1970s,” Mr Nawalaniec said.
He said it had been seven “long years” since DoC Wairarapa made an “arbitrary decision” to dismantle and do away with the hut.
“But credit needs to be given to them for backing down and holding public meetings and entering into negotiations to save this iconic shelter,” Mr Nawalaniec said.
He said trampers who had supported retaining the hut and the late Tony Macklin, of Wellington Deerstalkers, who had secured an agreement to save it and refurbish it deserved special thanks.
“Without Tony’s resolute work the efforts could have amounted to nothing,” Mr Nawalaniec said.