Top 5 tramping huts

Most trampers have their favourite huts.

Many would pick places that have associations with people met. Friendships are quickly made when adversity is shared.

Travelling solo, and now rarely going to popular huts, I’m more inclined to pick the memorable experiences getting there.

My favourite Top 5, in no particular order, have each had their moments.

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The hut is well secured to the rock. It needs to be due to the exposed location. | Bluff Hut, Hokitika River, West Coast

1. Bluff Hut. On my second day of a staged trip intended to proceed from Hokitika Gorge to Kaikoura I managed to drop my pack into a fully flooded Whitcombe River.

Very sobering to watch your full equipment for the summer floating quickly down the river. Miraculously it was caught in an eddy and I was able to rescue it, albeit soaking much of my torso. After a cold night out in a wet sleeping bag I managed to dry everything out at Frew Hut before heading off to the amazing sited Bluff Hut.

Bluff Hut is perched above the Hokitika/Mungo Rivers and was buffeted by a storm that I sat out. A major expedition to get to the toilet in the conditions.

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Long Harry Hut, North-west Circuit, Stewart Island

2. Long Harry/Doughboy Hut. You might think I’m cheating by slipping these two in but there’s a reason. The actual Doughboy Hut structure was relocated from Long Harry Bay in 2003, and fully refurbished at the time.

Doughboy Bay Hut is a great spot to park up for a day or two. You can walk either way down the beach, well, at least at low tide. Plenty of residue from an ancient shipwreck on the beach, seals, or sea lions frolicking, and kiwis doing their thing down on the beach. The track on the north side of the bay is worth following to watch the rollers cruise past the huge rounded granite outcrops near the heads of the bay.

Meanwhile, at the new Long Harry Hut, kiwis are active during the day. It’s great looking out across the Southern Ocean to the mountains of Fiordland, and watching the gulls/terns doing their thing, and the clouds rapidly changing. Majorly dynamic.

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The hut is out in the tussock but there is plenty of dry firewood around. | Ministry of Works Historic Hut, Kahurangi National Park

3. Ministry of Works Hut. The 1970 Ministry of Works Hut is seldom visited, and is therefore in great condition. My approach was from the Kahurangi Keepers Hut just 7.6 km away. The complete lack of track, and having to make your way through the West Coast scrub left me looking like I’d spent a night in a cage with a few feral cats, ie, remarkably scratched up. Yes, another soaked sleeping bag story.

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Once you get up there its flat, with the tarn close by. | Mt Misery Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park

4. Mt Misery Hut. The last hut in Nelson Lakes National Park that I finally visited was a surprise. My approach in the fog and gloom gave no hint of the magnificent vista that was revealed the following morning. It’s almost an 1100 m grunt from Lake Rotoroa, that can be greasy when wet. No toilet, but a shovel is provided.

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That's almost Ferny Gair, 1670m, in the background. | Penk Hut, Ferny Gair Conservation Area, Marlborough

5. Penk Hut. Where? Yeah, not many visit this well-preserved hut in an obscure location in North Marlborough, and most who do are choppered in. I arrived via Lake Alexander and climbing Ferny Gair, 1560 m, and departed via the Penk River. No track is provided towards the Awatere River, you just rock hop, wade, or swim as required.

Another few huts that might come into consideration if this was expanded to a Top 10.

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Venus Hut, Kahurangi National Park

Venus Hut. Venus Hut has to be one of the great located huts around, perched in a small clearing just above the Karamea River, you can pop out to have a look at the huge trout languidly oscillating in the clear green water below.

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Big mountains just to the south. | Mt Brown Hut , Lake Kaniere

Mt Brown Hut. If you are fit and frisky, the track up to Mount Brown Hut is a great test of your fitness, and general capabilities. Just the straight 1000 m vertical climb. No respite. Well, it flattens once you reach the ridge somewhat.

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Some may enjoy this sight at the end of a long day.  | Big Bay Hut, Pyke - Big Bay Route

Big Bay Hut. Overall Big Bay Hut is a great place to shack up for a day or two if you doing the full Hollyford – Pike circuit.

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the welcome sight of the bivvy  | Lake Man Bivvy, Lake Sumner Conservation Park

Lake Man Bivvy. Lake Man Bivvy is another New Zealand Forest Service bivvy that has been built around the length of a bunk and requires, for many, stooping to enter.

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Old Julia Hut. The old, character-filled Julia Hut has been totally and lovingly renovated in 2014 and is a fully fabbo place to stay.

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