Sylvester Hut

#78 – 1st July 2016

My latest adventure back out to the fantastic Cobb Valley took me back to some old favourites and also up to visit this cracker hut for the first time.

Situated a 500m or so ascent up from the carpark at the Cobb Dam , this hike is on a well formed track and will take you about 2hours. Once you get up above the bushline the views are fantastic!! It’s a short 20 minute walk to Lake Sylvester from the hut too and it is incredibly beautiful!!

The hut is a modern build that holds 12 on two sleeping platforms and has a fantastic little deck outside. The views from the hut are incredible and its a perfect wee stargazer against the incredible Kahurangi skyline. The sunsets and sunrises here are also not to be missed!!

The hut and lake seem to have been named after S.J.H Sylvester who accomplished some legendary backcountry stuff in his time. He also worked for DOC at the time of his death in 1931. There is a board of information about him in the hut which further tells his story.

We spent two nights up here and shared the hut with an american girl camped outside on the first night and a german couple the second night. The weather was fantastic but it was extremely cold!! Still, no snow :/ ….. Maybe next time??


Further Information:

Chaffey Hut

#75 – 26th February 2016

This hut has been on my list for a while now and I think it easily meets my criteria for being a favourite!! It’s practically the cutest hut Ive ever met – all made of birch wood right down to the bunk beds, with the stone steps at the entrance.

The hut has three bunks and is an easy 1-2 hour walk from the road end in the Cobb Valley, Kahurangi National Park. It’s also along a track well worth continuing on, up the valley to both the Fenella Hut and the Cobb Hut further up. Additionally, there is old tent camp further up this valley (which I believe is the last of its kind)  which has also been recently restored that is well worth seeing too.

Chaffey Hut is a unique build of horizontal slab birch, built originally in 1952 and recently restored by the Golden Bay branch of the NZ deerstalkers association. The hut was in bad shape before this and it took 1500 hours of volunteered time and $12,000 to give it back this new lease on life. The restoration features in a short clip (beginning at about 12:10) brought to my attention by Hugh from ‘The best hut ever built’. Check it out!!

We visited this hut on our way up to Fenella Hut stopping here for morning tea and to enjoy taking in the beautiful little clearing in which it sits. We met a handful of daytrippers that passed by and also a man who had walked through from the Douglas Range on a multiday trip.

Balloon Hut

#71 – 30th January 2016

This fantastic hut sits in the most beautiful location, nestled amongst the golden grasses of the Kahurangi Tablelands. Its a 14 bunk hut with sleeping on two platforms with a spacey living area and awesome decking!! There is gas heating (although at the time of writing this I believe its being replaced) and gas for cooking.

You can reach this hut from the Cobb Valley side in approx. 2-3 hours or its a 5.5 hour walk from Flora Valley car park. It’s located 1.5 hours from Salisbury Hut on the Tablelands circuit – a top circuit for the Kahurangi National Park with heaps of stuff to see!! I always rave about this national park in terms of its wildlife. I’ve been around a few parks and forests countrywide now and this one is always teeming with life. Weka, robins, native snails, whio and more! Its so cool to see, and I imagine its largely a product of two visually obvious working groups at force in the area; ‘Friends of Flora’ and ‘Friends of Cobb’.

Anyway, I believe this hut is the second/third to be built here on this site, the first built in 1909 (built by gold diggers), second in 1963 and the upgrade (rebuild?) in February 1995. There is a heap of history in the area and you will be able to read all about it on the boards at the hut. The landscape itself is ancient. Skiing even used to occur on Mt Peel (just behind the hut – well worth climbing) before it was decided the walk was too arduous and skiing moved elsewhere to Mt Roberts.

I visited this hut as a side trip off the Tablelands Circuit and we shared it with an awesome couple from Sweden 🙂 They had come through from the west coast on a multiday trip through the Leslie – Karamea and Whangapeka routes, and were planning to restock in the Takaka area before heading back to the west coast via the Heaphy Track 🙂 We bumped into a heap of others day tripping on the way out too 🙂


Further Information:

Flora Hut

#66 – 14th November 2015

This hut is a definite wee gem!! It’s split into two bunk areas with cozy open fireplaces at either side, and a huge wood stacking dry area between the two. It sleeps 6 people on bunks at either side.

Built in 1982, as a replica for the original hut built in 1927, the hut has recently had a heap of maintenance done by the Nelson tramping club. The walls are all lined inside, it has had a painting makeover and is looking fabulous and feeling cosy for it!!

The hut is located on the Tablelands Circuit in the Kahurangi National Park and is only a short 30 minute walk from the Grahams Valley Road carpark. It makes an awesome spot to take your young kids to introduce them to the NZ backcountry hut experience, and also makes a good Friday night base to set off early on a Saturday morning to more of the amazing destinations nearby.

The park is practically my favourite!! There is a group operating in this area called Friends of Flora who do a lot of work and it shows! The wildlife in here is amazing, I’ve seen the giant native snails, the whio, robins, cheeky weka and more!! 🙂 🙂

I’ve been here twice now. The first visit we found ourselves sharing the hut with some researchers who had laid trapping tunnels to measure the pests in the area and who were also doing bird call counts. The second visit had us spending the hut with a fantastic young family from just down the road – a dad and his two awesome young daughters! Always a great experience at this hut!! ❤


Further Information:



Upper Gridiron Hut

#65 – 14th November 2015

I had heard about this wee gem long before I managed to visit it. A hut…. wedged into a rockface…? How cool!! Unique for sure!!

Nestled just a 2 hour walk in from the carpark in the Kahurangi National Park, this hut is within easy reach of most people. The gradient is easy, and it happens to be a dual use track so you can bike to this hut too!

The hut sleeps three inside and you could sleep a few extra outside on the extra mattresses. The rock face inside literally makes one of the hut walls – its so cool 🙂 There is no fire inside anymore but there is a fire pit outside the hut with a swinging bench chair. What a brilliant spot to spend the summer evening!

My fiancée and I visited this hut on a round trip past Mt Arthur Hut and we stopped here for lunch before heading back to Flora Hut for the night. There was a heap of people using the area when we were there and we passed many groups. The great thing about this track is it has a hut intentions book at the beginning so you can see who is where before heading off. This is awesome as you can adjust your plans accordingly and perhaps go to a different hut if one is full 🙂

Further Information:

Mangatepopo Hut (Flashback)

#1 – 1st January 2012

This hut is particularly special (at least to me) as it is the hut that launched my passion and is where it all began 🙂

It’s a top hut too, located on one of the busiest stretches of track you’ll find in New Zealand and for good reason. The volcanic landscape of the Tongariro National Park in which it sits is incredible! It is the first hut that you will pass on your day walk of the Tongariro Crossing, and could be your first overnight stop on the Northern Circuit – the parks great walk.

The hut holds 20 people in two bunkrooms with a good sized living area, and a wee decking. During the great walks season there is also cookers available, and the heating is gas.

You can reach the hut in under an hour from the Mangetepopo carpark or in 3hours from Whakapapa Village which is a good beginning and end point for a Northern Circuit as you will find places here to stay, eat and drink for your return. The visitor centre here is great too and they can help you with your hut bookings.

The hut also makes a real good base for a trip up Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom), and to the summit of Mt Tongariro itself (much easier).

This first trip to this hut I only stopped for water, and I was walking our Tongariro Crossing for the first time. Not long after I returned to do the Northern Circuit and this hut became my first ever overnight hut experience. I met some great people the second time, and the scenery was as spectacular as ever!!

Further information:

Mt Arthur Hut

#63 – 13th November 2015

This awesome cozy hut is tucked into the hillside on the way up Mt Arthur in Kahurangi National Park. It’s a really easy access hut that would be suitable for just about anybody  with the track having recently been upgraded. It is to a walking track standard with a pretty easy gradient for the most part and then a wee climb closer to the top. Total walking time to the hut from the carpark is only 1.5 hours.

Its an awesome base for more adventures in the area with myriad of huts and tracks nearby. Continuing from the hut you can climb Mt Arthur, or continue on over Gordons Pyramid towards Cobb Reservoir with Salisbury Hut and Balloon Hut enroute.

Within minutes of walking up behind the hut you have cracker views right out over Nelson and beyond, the flora and landscape is amazing and impressively unique to other areas we have visited. There are plenty of Weka too, and they are not shy!! Watch your stuff – they stole our toilet roll in the blink of an eye!!!

Inside the hut its a pretty cosy layout with 8 bed spaces on two sleeping platforms. The fire is brilliant and gets the place cozy in next to no time!!

On our visit we saw baby Weka chicks near the path on the way up which was an awesome experience!! We shared the hut with a great bunch of people from nearby Motueka and also from Germany.


Further reading:

NZ's Huts & Shelters – By Sharlene Laskey