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DOC hut shuts its doors

Jumbo Hut in the Tararua Forest Park was closed after an engineer’s report deemed it unsafe. PHOTO/JOE HANSEN

By Chelsea Boyle

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The popular Jumbo Hut shut its doors on Thursday at 4pm, after 36 years of sheltering trampers on the Mt Holdsworth-Jumbo circuit but will be strengthened and re-opened.

A routine engineer’s inspection proved its undoing, revealing that the 20-bunk hut may be unsafe in extreme wind and snow conditions.

Department of Conservation (DoC) ranger Jim Flack said engineers advised they closed the hut for strengthening work.

“The hut was built in 1981, so there has been a lot of improvements to building codes since then.”

At 1200m, the hut was in “a pretty extreme environment”, he said.

DoC hoped to reopen the hut before the busy season begun in October.

They were now in the process of letting everybody know about the closure, Mr Flack said.

“I know people will be disappointed, it’s a very popular hut.”

It caters for 1600 bed nights year, he said.

The bed nights figure showed how many times the hut was booked, but was not a reflection of the number of people passing through because they might book the same bed for more than one night.

There are plans to rebuild Jumbo Hut completely in the next five years

“We still have to consult with the community about what kind of hut they want,” Mr Flack said.

“It’ll probably be a like- for- like, so a similar number of bunks, but things have moved on since 1981.

“Designs change, and users might have changed.

“There are lots of people to talk to.”

Although Jumbo Hut is closed trampers could still use one of  two other huts.

Three to four hours south from Jumbo Hut was Powell Hut, Mr Flack said.

“That’s a larger and even more popular hut.”

Atiwhakatu Hut was about an hour and half down from Jumbo Hut “at the bottom of the valley”  and is a 26-bunk hut.

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