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Evolution of the new Atiwhakatu Hut

Through some strange set of circumstances I’ve found myself walking past Atiwhakatu Hut in the Tararuas on 5 separate days of 3 weekends in the past 6 weeks. None of it was very planned in advance, but it happened to correlate with the hut’s replacement, giving me an opportunity to take some photos of its evolution, and the eventual destruction of the old hut. The new Atiwhakatu Hut is the same design as Roaring Stag, and although I haven’t had an opportunity to see inside, it looks great from the outside.

No doubt people involved have their own much more complete sets of photos, but I’m quite chuffed to have my own. This is the first time I’ve had an opportunity to watch a hut being built in this way.

2nd May 2009, about midday

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There’s not much to look at yet, but trees have been cleared and there’s a floor.

3rd May 2009, about midday

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Lots happened overnight, and now it’s starting to take shape.

10th May 2009, about midday

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It’s finally starting to look like a real hut, and the whole Roaring Stag thing is becoming clearer with the deck going around the corner and such.

29th May 2009, about 8.30pm

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If there wasn’t still a construction site around it, we might have quite easily walked up and taken this as a fully completed hut. The builders were strumming away on a guitar with the fire going in the old hut as we walked past.

31st May 2009, about 1pm

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I’m sure the old NZFS Atiwhakatu Hut will inspire memories for many people, probably including memories of a smoke-filled room. By 31st May, the builders had deemed it time to dismantle the old hut, presumably moving themselves into the new hut whilst completing the final touches. We happened to walk past during this phase, which involved a very hot bonfire.

15th May 2010 (post updated 21st May 2010)

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Almost a year after its completion, I finally walked past Atiwhakatu Hut again [12] to see it complete, and about to be packed past overflowing later in the evening.

It must be an interesting and unusual project to be involved in building a back-country hut like this. One of the guys there told us that as Atiwhakatu Hut is near the Holdsworth road, they were spending about seven to eight days on the job at a time, then getting a break. When he was working on Maungahuka Hut near the Tararua Peaks, though, he spent a solid month up there.

4 Comments (Open | Close)

4 Comments To "Evolution of the new Atiwhakatu Hut"

#1 Comment By Robb On 7 June, 2009 @ 7:19 pm

Kia ora Mike,
Excellent job in documenting the progress and effort, could become of historical value someday! The closest I came to this was arriving at Parks Peak to find a new hut there in place of the rather “quaint” old one. I recently spent a few nights there with a few hunters who had come upon it during the building process which was interesting to hear. Apparently the builders can be very “colourful” characters. The hut seems pretty sound though, and Atiwhakatu looks like it was in pretty capable hands as well.

#2 Comment By Mike McGavin On 12 June, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

Thanks Robb. Yeah, it was a really fascinating process. I knew the hut was being replaced but I’d made no plans beforehand to go anywhere near it at all, and I guess I just got lucky. I do feel bad seeing some of the old relics disappear (bye bye to another old NZFS hut), but I suppose it’s a sign of the times as far as the current needs of that particular place, and 20-30 years from now, the new hut will have its own historic significance.

Builders who do that kind of thing are weird compared with the normal populace, but then so is everyone who spends time out in the bush. It’s a good thing. 🙂

#3 Comment By Stan On 15 June, 2009 @ 6:48 pm

What I don’t understand is why it wasn’t constructed years ago,
and why it isn’t the same size as Totara Flats hut. It would be ideal for school groups. Powell Hut would probably put off beginners for life.

#4 Comment By Mike McGavin On 16 June, 2009 @ 8:52 am

I can’t answer that but I heard that with the (much nicer) camping nearby it was planned for removal until the local huts committee convinced DOC that it was a good location for people who wanted shorter more accessible walks, etc. (Someone might correct me if I have this slightly wrong.)

I’m sure the reasons are minuted somewhere and you could probably ask DOC and they’d be happy to explain. I wonder if perhaps they didn’t want another serviced hut (3 tickets each) in the same vicinity, which take more time and money to maintain, and would cost people more than it used to for a short under-trees walk. For hut fees, Jumbo and Powell on that same circuit are responsible for some huge proportion of the money from the Tararuas (80% maybe), at least according to a chap I met a few weeks ago. Add Atiwhakatu to that and the circuit (well, the whole road-end) gets very expensive for any group wanting to aim for huts but keep the costs down. That’s just my guess without having thought much about it.