Heaphy Track hut open for business
Trampers and cyclists enjoying the Heaphy Track now have a new place to rest their weary muscles.
The $500,000 28-bunk Perry Saddle Hut was opened last week, replacing the old 24-bunk hut built in 1972.
Conservation Department officials and hardy trampers from the Golden Bay Alpine and Tramping Club walked through snow and wind to make it to the new hut.
They had a party on Tuesday night before an official opening by one of New Zealand's best `hut baggers', Paul Kilgour, on Wednesday morning. Mr Kilgour has visited more than 1100 huts.
DOC Golden Bay area manager John Mason said the old hut's living space and cooking area were not big enough for the number of bunks used, particularly when it was raining, which was often.
"It's still a relatively simple hut, but we've brought modern standards and building design to it," he said.
The hut was the first of three to be replaced on the Heaphy Track, with Heaphy Hut due later this year and McKay Hut to be replaced next year.
"When people realised that Perry Saddle was going to be replaced, we had a number of inquiries from people who were concerned about what a `Great Walk Standard Hut' meant," he said. "I think they had visions of a luxurious hut with hot water showers and La-Z-Boy chairs. However, we were always pretty clear about what we intended to build. We didn't want complicated technology that might break down, we just wanted to bring some modern design and modern building standards and create a simple and comfortable hut that made the best use of the natural features of the site."
Perry Saddle Hut is a typical first night stop for trampers heading from east to west on the 78.4-kilometre Heaphy Track, one of New Zealand's Great Walks.
It now boasts solar lights and has more light, insulation, bigger double-glazed windows, better views and a bunk for every person, instead of the old platform bunks.
Golden Bay Alpine and Tramping Club president John Pemberton is impressed with the hut's warmth, space, lovely views and "beautiful finish".
"What they've achieved is a hut where you can put 28 people in it and they'd all cope rather well," he said. "There's good seating space and really good cooking space. They've nailed it, I think."
Golden Bay's Frank Byrne Builders constructed the hut, which took four months to complete.
"They have done a superb job in building this hut," Mr Mason said.
DOC staff member Terry Hull designed the wooden tables and stools, which were "real works of art in their own right", Mr Mason said.
Takaka's Will Blackett, of La Forge, designed a wrought iron fireside drying rack featuring native birds and plants.
As part of the Great Walk network, a night at Perry Saddle Hut costs $30.60 for adults and is free for children.
- © Fairfax NZ News