The new Powell Hut shines in the sun. PHOTO/ SUPPLIED

Great views from new hut

EMMA BROWN
emma.brown@age.co.nz

The most popular hut in the Tararua Range has been rebuilt and is open for business as of Friday.

A group of trampers, locals, and Department of Conservation staff gathered at Mount Holdsworth Lodge at midday to officially open the iconic hut which has been modernised for the thousands of trampers who walk the Powell-Jumbo circuit every year.

The new hut is the fourth on the site, after the original was built in 1939.

More than 800 hut users provided feedback to DOC on what was needed for the new hut but also what was most loved about the old hut.

DOC Wairarapa operations manager Kathy Houkamau says the new hut has been built to meet the needs of modern users and to make the most of the spectacular views of the Wairarapa Valley available from an elevation of 1200m.

“Users value the panoramic views of Wairarapa more than anything else, so we have tripled the size of the deck, provided seating and partially covered it,” she said.

“People also wanted more privacy for sleeping, so the new hut has four separate bunkrooms as opposed to one large sleeping area, with a total of 32 bunks.”

In November last year, the hut was closed when it was found that weather tightness problems had weakened the overall structure.

DOC ranger Robbie Shaw said there were a lot of challenges that came with building the new hut in such an extreme and challenging environment.

The weather was tough at times with workers dealing with mud up to their knees, and then frozen ground during winter.

Honorary Department of Conservation ranger Nancy Sharp. PHOTO/EMMA BROWN

Present at the opening was 86-year-old Nancy Sharp, who was a hut warden for over 15 years and was made an honorary DOC ranger.

Sharp has been to the opening of the past two huts and visited the original Powell Hut back in 1970.

Sharp’s passion for tramping has not changed and she hopes to one day see the new hut.

“I just love it, I love the tops and all the flowers up there,” she said.

Volunteer hut warden Brett Gillies said it was a privilege to meet Nancy.

Gillies is the hut warden for six huts and had the honour of receiving the keys and being the first person to stay at the new Powell Hut Friday night, and greet the 28 trampers booked in to stay on Saturday night.

“I have stayed in all the Powell Huts,” Gillies said.

“It is the best place in New Zealand to watch the sunrise … in a sleeping bag with a cup of tea.”

Bookings for Powell Hut can be made online at: doc.govt.nz [$15 for adults and $7.50 for children per night].