Zekes Hut

9th – 10 March 2024

We travelled via the Napier – Taihape road, but bypassing Taihape to the north via Spooners Hill Road to SH1 to the Hihitahi Forest Sanctuary about 10km south of Waiouru. Entrance to the track is off the northern side of SH1 where a road bridge crosses the railway line. Parking is very limited. Fortunately for us, no other vehicle was present, suggesting the hut might be empty.

Saturday was slightly breezy & cloudy and from our start point Mt. Ruapehu provided a good backdrop. Quarter of a kilometre in via the farm fence line & river route, we came to the one-person swing bridge across the Hautapu River. With the river crossed, the track ran parallel to a swamp on the NW side, and finally climbing to a fence line at the start of the bush. Sidling along a narrow & boggy bush track leads to a small stream crossing and then steepish climb for about 20 minutes.

Beyond, the track gradually flattens out passing amongst sporadic Cedars & Totara trees. Towards the summit there’s a hint of a small patch of goblin bush. The grassy summit on this trip provided a bit of shelter, a good place for lunch and a good place to take in the views, especially on the return trip when all the three mountains were in the clear. There are many dead & dying trees, many being Cedars, seen from the summit down to the hut. Below the summit towards the hut, the tracks goes in a clockwise direction before descending down a steep grassy & wet section of track with few handholds into an bush valley where streams intersect. Again there are a few boggy sections.

On undulating ground well away from the streams is a tidy 4 bunk hut (it was empty), double glazed with wood burner, a water tank and open deck. The hut catches the sun from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. One could tent on a couple of small grassy areas that slope a little. With moderate temperatures there was no need to use the wood burner and a full hut made it a pleasant stay.

The return tramp out from the hut was cool & clear. It was the better day sun & wind wise and for views. The tramp for our group took about 3 and 1/4 hours each way, a distance of about 6.5 km.
The return trip home went via Taihape for a lunch break and a visit up to the viewing tower on top of Mt. Stewart bush reserve.

Party: Anne D , Paula K , Jude H & Simon W .

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