Stepping off NZ’s infamous Tongariro Crossing in 2012, little did I know it then but I had sewn the seed that would bring me to where I am today – a passionate visitor to our beautiful backyard with a soft spot for our huts & shelters. Mangetepopo Hut on the Northern Circuit soon after became my first ever backcountry hut experience and as a result the Tongariro National Park holds a special place in my heart. Not being from an outdoors family it was the first time I even realised what we had right here in our very own backyard! I was hooked!
Stunning scenery and landscapes aside I was struck by the hut experience – bringing together people from all walks of life in a way that you just don’t experience from day to day. I love the diversity of our hut visitors – from locals to overseas visitors, and from families with young children to those still out there in their 80’s and above!! It brings life back to basics. No time schedules. No deadlines. They allow us to experience the NZ outdoors in a way that nourishes the soul in today’s busy world.
And so it all began. From my first amazing adventure it became a series, and I began to notice the diversity of the huts themselves. They are old and they are new. They are full of history, or it’s waiting to be made. They are old forestry service huts, they are wooden, and they are stone. They come in all shapes and sizes, some with views to die for and some that spring out at the last moment in the valley.
As my passion grew I also discovered some of our huts need protecting. Quietly confident our most popular huts will be taken care of, it’s the quiet, remote, less frequently visited huts I worry are most at risk. Sadly, they can often be the four walls holding a lifetime of stories that embody our back country heritage and we must protect them – we owe it to our future backcountry enthusiasts.
Lucky for us all, I’m also not the only one and as a result of my journey I’ve come across countless individuals and groups all over our country who have fallen for our huts just like I have. Some of these people are giving their funds, their time, and sometimes even both, to help maintain our huts when DOC cannot.
It was at about this point I began to blog about my journey with the hope that by visiting all the huts and telling their story I can raise a passionate audience. More people – just like me -who can begin anywhere, including the Tongariro Crossing, as at the end of the day encouraging people to start their journey in our outdoors and raising that passion is the first step in cultivating the passionate hut visitors who will help save our huts into future. This is why every hut has its place and they are all important in the bigger picture of maintaining their diversity, and that is my goal.
To date I’ve visited 72 huts – but a drop in the bucket of the 900+ huts in our backyard. If you’re reading this story and you are interested in sponsoring my dream to be able to do it in a one great expedition – contact me!! Otherwise it’s a lifetime journey, and weekend by weekend, holiday by holiday I’ll bring you the stories of our gems. They’ve brought me a host of memorable moments from cracker sunsets, to flamboyantly dressed visitors, to the only time I genuinely thought I might need a helicopter – falling from the top bunk of a hut within km’s of one of our largest cities (oh the irony – don’t think your safe just because you have made it to the hut!).
You may wonder if I have a favourite yet? Well, I’m sure that day will come but as I visit our gems all beautiful in their own way I just cannot begin to decide. I have managed to name Bushline Hut in the Nelson Lakes National Park my favourite of 2015, but in looking at the huts still on my list I’m quite confident the best is yet to come ….
Happy huts people!! ❤