Burn Hut

17th/18h June 2023     

This weekend had been set aside to visit Barlow Hut, west of Tikokino in the Ruahine Ranges.  This would have meant numerous river crossings up the Makaroro River and the following day trying find our way up a liitle used track, up to the Parks Peak track and back down to the Makaroro River at the old Yeomans Mill site.  

As it turned out the heavy rain forecast, did eventuate and the decision was made to head south west to the western side of the Tararuas behind Shannon and visit the Burn Hut.  Seven folk, Susan, Anne, Robyn, Flynn, Nic, Murry and Simon were willing to try this track  into the Burn Hut, with none of us having been to the hut before.   We were going to attempt going in and out via the northern route from the No. 2 Manngahao Reservoir.

Approximately 2 1/2 hours road travel from Havelock North to Shannon and then about 40 minutes on a  very winding unsealed, rough road that climbs into the ranges we arrive at our starting point.  The weather at low altitudes around the Manawatu was indeed fine, but on the tops there was  strong easterly winds, rain and low cloud. 

The road behind Shannon was put in to facilitate the construction of a hydro power scheme that was  completed in 1924.  The track starts by walking across the top of the dam structure and then east following the  Mangahao river for about 50 minutes before climbing steeply up a bushlined ridge on the way  the cloudy tops.  At around 700m the track breaks out of the bush and gives way to leatherwood vegetation which affords some shelter but now there is the mud to contend with. For us about a third of the track was very muddy.  

Very occasional glimpses of the hut and the Manawatu coast line are seen through cloudy tops.  After about 4 hours we all arrive wet & muddy at the Burn Hut.   But it’s going to be a tight squeeze inside the hut entrance, accommodating wet coats, muddy boots, wet packs and trying to transfer gear from the packs to the main room. Seven folk in a 6 bunk hut.  But wait, there’s more. Another group of 4 arrive within the hour from Wellington.  Can we all fit inside the hut? Two of the group of four end up tenting and the other two sleep on the floor.  

However, the biggest surprise is just 20 metres away. A loo with a broken door that’s wired open to stop  it breaking any more. Fortunately for us the loo entrance faces south west and wind/rain is coming from the east. But it’s certainly a cool view!  With 11 folk in a 6 bunk hut for tea the place warms up just a little. No fire place here.  I’m guessing nobody really wants to think about making an outdoor visit during a very wet and  windy night that means putting on and off gear for a few minutes exercise.  

A brief orange sunset is seen through the shifting cloud but an even better vista appears briefly  the next morning.   A clear view of the coastline from Foxton all the way up to Taranaki with the whole of snow coverd Mt. Taranaki clearly seen.  The next morning the weather has eased slightly but coats are still needed.  All eleven trampers from the day before have contributed to enhancing the muddy track through  the leatherwood, but eventually the muddy track comes to an end and we break out into a little sunshine below the cloudy tops.  We all exit the track safely and a little tired by early afternoon.  

The general Mangahao area should be worth coming back too again sometime as it intersects the  Te Araroa trail and has tracks to the south, one of which goes to Burns Hut.   However rivers need to be negotiated, and it was rivers we were wanting to avoid this wet weekend.

Party: Simon W, Nic W, Flynn S, Susan L,  Anne D, Murry A & Robyn W.

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