New DOC hut takes shape on landmark site
Construction has begun on a new 20-bed Department of Conservation (DOC) hut on Mt Pirongia.
The hut is located at the Pahautea campsite, which already has a smaller hut and nine camp sites including amenities.
Flooring has been laid and frames are being erected this week. DOC expects the roof to be completed before Easter.
Costs have not been finalised, but DOC expects to spend around $350,000 on the development.
Equipment and materials have to be flown in by helicopter, and waste leaves the same way.
The expected completion date for the project is June or July.
The existing Pahautea Hut, built in 1980, is located 20 minutes from the summit.
DOC spokesman Bruce Postill said that hut will comfortably sleep six people, but it is frequently overcrowded.
It will however be upgraded and refurbished for DOC workers to live in.
The finished site will sleep a total of up to 40 people.
The site is at the junction of three walking tracks: the Bell Track, the Hihikiwi Track and the Tirohanga Track.
Postill said the hut is famous for "amazing sunsets", and it has views of the coast and Mt Taranaki.
"It'll be popular because Pirongia appears in the lives of a lot of people, it's a big landmark."
The old hut was not a part of DOC's booking system, so its use could not be guaranteed for school or family groups. The new hut will be a part of the national booking system, and Postill hopes it will be used by groups.
DOC builds three to four large huts per year, most of those in the South Island.
Postill said it had taken more than 10 years to get the Pahautea project to the construction phase.