One feature of New Zealand hiking (or tramping as it’s called there) is the Hut System they have. Most hiking routes have huts located at day walk intervals so we thought we had to try them out. We chose a short overnight trip to a Hut called the Woolshed Hut on Mount Somers in the Canterbury region of the South Island.
The hike started as many do in NZ with quite a bit of gravel road to drive along to get to the start. From there we walked along a valley before climbing steeply up past old mine workings where once upon a time coal was mined. One thing we are not used to is the heat we experienced so we were soon sweating and realizing that we had overpacked on insulation layers.
After the steep climb the route continued with a smaller path climbing steadily. Great views opened up to the south and before long the Hut came into view. We arrived by mid-afternoon but we were not the first there. As there was already a small crowd gathered in the bigger room, we picked the top platform in the smallest room and shared with a couple of others.
After cooking dinner we went out exploring to find a tiny one person swing bridge over a gorge. It was our first swing bridge experience and did not get off to a good start for Stacey with her vertigo kicking in. We also hunted for wildlife, finding loads of lizards including several pairs mating which our eldest found fascinating.
During the night we came to realize that huts weren’t really our thing. The Hut has sleeping platforms and plastic wrapped mattresses, so it wasn’t exactly the quietest of places to catch some sleep, especially at around 2am when our baby and the man in the bunk below tried to have a cry-off v snore-off…..
Morning came and the Hut adventure drew to an end. We packed up and slowly made our way back spotting some lizards and a red spider wasp dragging a spider to lay an egg in… according to our son! Macabre! He was right too when we checked it out online to find out more!!
We finished off with a spot of wild swimming in the “delightfully tropical” river at the start. At least that’s what we told Stacey before she dipped her feet in…
Overall it was a great adventure. The Hut system is a fantastic resource in NZ so long as you are in to that kind of thing. It was a lot more sociable than our usual outings and felt a bit too ‘man-made’ of an experience for us. We like getting outdoors to get away from it all and prefer our tent for the connectedness to the outside with the ability to set up where we want.
Have you used the Hut System in New Zealand? Which hike did you do? What did you think about it?