Ministry of Works Historic Hut / Mackay Downs Hut | Kahurangi National Park

Not many trampers visit what used to be called the Mackay Downs Hut, built by the MOW, Ministry of Works, as a base for surveying a possible road from Karamea to Collingwood in 1970.

The original hut book is a quarter full after 45 years of use, despite the often long and involved entries. There are often months between visits (describing people’s adventures as they come up from the Kahurangi Lighthouse), like 19, 15, 8, etc, but anyone who visits seems to treat the hut with the deserved respect. That’s possibly because there is no actual track to the hut, and you need reasonable map-reading skills to find it in the maze of octopus-like tiny valleys.

The Ministry of Works Historic Hut is the most original and well-preserved NZFS SF70-type hut built in the northern half of the South Island. It’s one of the few that follows the designed plan. Most were modified. The two major modifications are the replacement of the original canvas bunks with timber slats and mattresses, hooray, and pouring a concrete hearth for the fireplace.

It’s constructed from kahikatea, a lighter relative of rimu, to save weight on the helicopter delivery of the building materials.

Yeah, it’s a great hut.

+++++horizontal rule+++++

category . . . basic hut/bivvy

hut fee . . . free

elevation . . . 820 m

bunks . . . 6 mattresses

built . . . 1970, refurbished 1985

heating . . . open fireplace

water . . . bucket and 30 m walk to small stream

toilet . . . none, shovel provided to bury waste

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