by Tony Orman

New Zealand has a great range of backcountry huts and many have a fascinating history linked to 19th century gold rush times, mining, scientific studies and early high country pastoral farming. 

This book features 201 of the vast number of huts, selected by seasoned trampers Shaun Barnett, Geoff Spearpoint and Rob Brown. Kapiti Coast mountain trekkers won’t be disappointed as a number of Tararua Range huts are included.

Kime Hut on the Tararua Crossing

Kime Hut pic by Craig McGhie.

My earliest deerstalking years and weekend trips were based on the Tararua and Ruahine Ranges.  On Friday nights along with one or two companions, I would take the railcar from Wellington to Otaki and then share a taxi up to Otaki Forks. From there we would tramp by torchlight to Field Hut and then at first light, on to Kime Hut on top of the range. Kime Hut had been built by legendary Tararua recluse Joe Gibbs and team in the 1930s.

In those days, Kime Hut was an old red hut scarred from north westerly gales and biting cold Antarctic born southerlies. So seeing Kime Hut among the 201 selections brought back memories although the old Kime Hut has since been replaced by a modern 20 bunk hut which is pictured in this outstanding book.

Coming in from the Wairarapa

Roaring Stag lodge in Wairarapa’s Ruamahunga headwaters is one I carried timber in for the first construction in 1963.  It too has been replaced with a modern, new design. 

Keen Tararua trampers will also delight in several other huts from those ranges such as Maungahuka, Arete, Totara Flats, Tarn Ridge, McGregor Bivouac and Cone.

A great reference with superb photographs

Nostalgia is undeniable. So too is visualising and planning future trips and this book will no doubt inspire a list of “must visit” huts.

The photographs are excellent, often sensitively taken, and the description of each hut is concise and informative. However some did lack an indication of access times from road ends.

This is a splendid, informative reference book which is handsomely produced. It doubles as an impressive coffee table book. Highly recommended.

Bunk for the Night: A Guide To New Zealand’s Best Backcountry Huts is published by Potter & Burton, 260 x 210 mm