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Cattle Ridge Hut open for business

Cattle Ridge Hut reopening guests last Saturday. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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Years of hard work and restoration mean the Tararua Range is a little safer for lovers of the outdoors, thanks to the restoration of Cattle Ridge Hut.

The hut, on the northern Tararua Range near Mt Bruce, was officially reopened last Saturday.

A party of 18 attended the reopening, including members of the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association, builders, past Department of Conservation staff, Amalgamated Helicopters pilots, and family of the late Tony Macklin [an advocate for the hut].

The original hut was built in 1960-1961, and by 2012 the Department of Conservation had made an “arbitrary decision” to dismantle and do away with it.

However, resistance met the decision from members of the outdoors community including Macklin.

In his speech at the reopening on Saturday, NZDA Wellington branch committee member Ed Trotter acknowledged the work Macklin had put in to save the hut.

“The need was met through Tony Macklin’s vision and energy to reinstate an essential asset near the top of Cattle Ridge to benefit the many users who could potentially be exposed to the elements and face life-threatening injuries.

“Without Tony’s passion and mahi, we wouldn’t be here today recognising and honouring his service to the cause, this hut, and all the benefactors past, present and future.”

Speaking to the Times-Age on Monday, Trotter said one of the biggest things on the day was the closure for the Macklin family.

“Tony had started the project, he’d done the draughtsmanship for it – using the skeleton and putting a few extra things around it and double glazed windows and the like and then he died suddenly in September 2016.”

A plaque dedicated to Tony Macklin was unveiled by his son Joe on Saturday.

The rebuild was funded through DOC, the Tararua Aorangi Remutaka Huts Committee and the NZDA Wellington branch as a partnership.

The NZDA Wellington branch raised $70,000 for the hut’s restoration.

“Of that, $35,000 was pretty much spent on helicopters – flying the gear in,” Trotter said.

“The weather is so extreme you can’t build all the time – you’ve got windows between November and March each year.”

With winds that can reach 140kmh battering the hut, Trotter said the hut had “massive strops on it” to hold it in place.

The hut also has a wet room, a fireplace, stainless steel bench, is about a third larger than the original, and has a rainwater storage tank.

Trotter said since it was rebuilt in 2018, it’s had about 100 people stay – many of whom wouldn’t usually have stayed.

“Now it’s a building fit for purpose people are going out of their way to visit it.”

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