South Canterbury huts and campsites

This is Big River territory, with the Southern Alps / Kā Tiritiri o te Moana to the west and the Canterbury Plains to the east.

Whereas the huts to the north tend to be old New Zealand Forest Service deer cullers huts or DOC recreational huts, once you get into the midsection of the South Island, they can have more varied origins.

Old musterers’ huts. Serviced Alpine huts. Privately owned huts from the Canterbury Mountaineering Club or Canterbury University Tramping Club, as well as the Forest Service or DOC varieties.

The big rivers like the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers can be difficult to cross due to the water volume and the flow’s steepness. The ranges between them may require high pass crossings.

Some huts, like Mueller Hut, are very popular, and the ones on Te Araroa, like Crooked Spur Hut, are regularly visited, but others, such as Back Basin Hide or Dog Kennel Bivvy much less so.

So, here is a representative sample.

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A Frame Hut | Hakatere Conservation Park

A Frame Hut might come in handy if the weather packs it in.

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Avoca Hut, Craigieburn Forest Park

The most famous bath in Craigieburn. | Avoca Hut, Craigieburn Forest Park

Famous for the bath, but don’t use all the water from the tanks as it is a long and steep drop down to the river.

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Back Basin Hide, Craigieburn Forest Park

Excellent view. | Back Basin Hide, Craigieburn Forest Park

Is a totally spectacular location, and quite a decent size for two.

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Baikie Hut | Ruataniwha Conservation Park

Plenty of rogue pines around, some dead. | Baikies Hut, Ruataniwha Conservation Park

The hut is in good nick for such an old hut.

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Basins Hut, Craigieburn Forest Park

A large open porch on the north and east elevations. | Basins Hut, Craigieburn Forest Park

A typical SF70 New Zealand Forest Service hut in reasonable condition, with large porches on the front and east side added.

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Brodrick Hut | Ruataniwha Conservation Park

The view of the Upper Huxley valley basin from the helicopter landing pad is extraordinary.

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Camp Stream Hut | Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

Camp Stream Hut is an 1898 musterers’ hut that has been DOC-ified over the years, bunks and mattresses added.

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Comyns Hut | Hakatere Conservation Park

Comyns Hut is the hut at northern end the famous “71 river crossings in an afternoon” that are either just completed, or to be contemplated.

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Crooked Spur Hut | Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

Crooked Spur Hut is another one of the character filled, old musterers’ huts that populate this part of Te Araroa.

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Cullers Hut | Ruataniwha Conservation Park

Hut is mostly used by hunters and has been partially renovated.

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Curtis Memorial Hut | Hakatere Conservation Park

Nice setting above the Havelock River.  | Curtis Memorial Hut, Havelock River

One of the most pleasant huts in the Havelock River Valley.

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Dasler Bivvy | Ruataniwha Conservation Park

One of the best examples of a two-bunk New Zealand Forest Service bivvy around.

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Dodger Hut | Ruataniwha Conservation Park

It’s right in the heart of tahr and deer territory, so no surprise it’s often used by hunters, although also finds favour with mountain climbers as a base camp.

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Dog Kennel Bivvy | Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

Excellent setting, but not so easy to get up there. | Dog Kennel Bivvy, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

Simply full-on “character”. Not far removed from an actual dog kennel.

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Double Hut | Hakatere Conservation Park

Lots of character here, including plenty of historic graffiti on the internal walls.

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Elcho Hut | Ruataniwha Conservation Park

Built by the New Zealand Alpine Club in 1938 to provide a base for climbing the many peaks in the vicinity. Really well looked after by the current members.

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Erceg Hut | Ruataniwha Conservation Park

A tight little four bunker with no heating, so winter accommodation will require a decent sleeping bag.

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Eric's Bivvy | Hakatere Conservation Park

The hut is on the top of a mound on the valley floor. | Eric Bivouac, Hakatere Conservation Park

Fairly minimal amenities, windows or mattresses are omitted, but it does have a roof.

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Forbes Bivvy | Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

Exterior. | Forbes Bivvy, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

A lovely little New Zealand Forest Service bivvy built in 1963.

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Growler Hut | Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

Exterior. | Growler Hut, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

A reinforced blockwork shoebox with a more attractive ply-lined interior.

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Hooker Hut | Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

Looking up the Hooker valley to Aoraki/Mt Cook. | Hooker Hut, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

With a colour scheme that makes it stand out in the landscape.

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Huxley Forks Main Hut | Ruataniwha Conservation Park

A good easy tramp for teenagers for the weekend, and an introduction to hut life.

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Maitland Hut | Ruataniwha Conservation Park

A great little four bunk hut in fairly original condition is set on a knoll in a small clearing.

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Manuka Hut | Hakatere Conservation Park

Just a bit off the main Te Araroa track this is another old musterers’ hut.

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Mistake Flats Hut | Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

Looking up the Forbes River. | Mistake Flats Hut, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

A typical New Zealand Forest Service SF 70 six-bunk hut in good condition that was relocated here in the 1980s.

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Moa Stream Hut, Craigieburn Forest Park

Not a large clearing these days.  | Moa Stream Hut, Craigieburn Forest Park

The hut is in good original condition, although a much-needed roof light has been added.

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Monument Hut | Ruataniwha Conservation Park

Being a hut that can be reached by four-wheel-drive, it suffers a little from having many shortstay visitors, of whom few stay the night.

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Mueller Hut | Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

Mt Sefton, 3,151 m, in the background. | Mueller Hut, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

One of the great New Zealand outdoor day trips or overnighters, for the energetic.

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Murphy's Bivvy | Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

Not much wood around to burn despite the woodshed and chimney | Murphys Bivvy, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

A lovely bivvy in great condition.

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Officers Hut | Ruataniwha Conservation Park

Within the shadow of the Main Huxley Forks Hut.

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Old Basins Hut, Craigieburn Forest Park

The old hut needs a bit of attention or it will quickly become uninhabitable. | Old Basins Hut, Craigieburn Forest Park

It’s a bush-built beauty, with a local beech sapling structure, a dirt floor, and canvas or hessian bunks.

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Park Morpeth Hut, Wilberforce Conservation Area

Truly spectacular setting. | Park Morpeth Hut, Wilberforce Conservation Area

In recent years it has been substantially renovated on the interior, the exterior has been painted, and the water supply worked out.

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Red Hut | Ruataniwha Conservation Park

A hut originally built for a failed tourist venture to take tourists to Mount Cook via Barron Saddle at the head of the adjacent Dobson River, and thence down the Mueller Glacier. In their tweeds and petticoats.

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Royal Hut | Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

Royal Hut is another old musterers’ hut from station days but it has the usual facilities you expect in a DOC hut.

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South Huxley Bivvy | Ruataniwha Conservation Park

So that’s the wood shed, where is the hut?

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South Temple Hut | Ruataniwha Conservation Park

One of the original New Zealand Forest Service huts in the area has been extended and modified at some stage in the past.

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Spurs Hut | Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

Exterior. | Spurs Hut, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

It’s a damp stroll in, with much of the way swampy, but at least it’s reasonably level.

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St Winifreds Hut | Hakatere Conservation Park

Big Porch added 2004. | St Winifreds Hut, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

A well cared for Canterbury Mountain Club hut that is available for use by the public.

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Stodys Hut | Hawea Conservation Area

Stodys is an old musterer’s hut which has been recently renovated to give it another few decades of life.

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Stone Hut | Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

There’s part of the stone bit left, the fireplace end, but Stone Hut has been hit by avalanches in the past, not worth staying here in the winter when there is snow on the hills.

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Telephone Hut | Braeburn Road

An historic two bunk hut that is acceptable accommodation in an emergency.

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The Pines freedom campsite | Lake Pukaki Reserve

The campsite is in amongst the pine trees right by the edge of Lake Pukaki.  | The Pines freedom campsite, Lake Pukaki Reserve

The views terrific, but if you want some seclusion you can always put your tent up in under the pine trees. The cars can’t easily drive up there.

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Tin Hut | Avonburn Station

Tin Hut is an old dusty, musty musterer’s hut that is available for use by the public. The graffiti on the hut exterior makes for interesting reading.

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Unknown Stream Hut, Craigieburn Forest Park

The hut is right in the middle of not much. | Unknowm Strean Hut, Craigieburn Forest Park

Mostly used by hunters and occasional long-distance mountain trekkers, or a few trampers who engage with the Moa Saddle circuit.

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Urquhart's Hut, Craigieburn Forest Park

That's rust, not paint. Needs some love. | Urquhart's Hut, Craigieburn Forest Park

Dirt floor. Bush cut local timber structure. Huge fireplace. Canvas bunks. No insulation, and plenty of ventilation.

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Veil Bivouac | Rangitata/Rakaia Headwaters Conservation Area

The bivvy is up on a river terrace. | Veil Bivouac, Rangitata/Rakaia Headwaters Conservation Area

The lack of heating is a possible disincentive to staying in cooler months, although the full complement of three visitors would be cosy in the confined space.

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Weka Burnet Bivvy, Craigieburn Forest Park

Yup, it's tiny. | Weka Burnet Bivvy, Craigieburn Forest Park

The bog is across a bog.