Back to Double Hut – Double Hut

“A Mish a Day” #236 Back to Double Hut. Hakatere Conservation Area. 8.31.2012. Hiking across the open plains of the Lake Heron Basin is a way I have spent many days, and each time has been excellent. The golden tussock mixed with the dark colors of rock and matagouri makes for a harsh and yet stunningly beautiful part of Aotearoa. Now covered in the squares of farm paddocks, on each trip I always wonder what the place would have looked like before the first humans visited…

The introduced animals have chewed their way through most of the flora, and only left plants that are covered in a prickly natural defence. The lack of trees does mean that views are always in abundance, and during a disappointing winter in 2012 I was joined by Jeremy and Paul for a mission to Double Hut. Of all the back country huts in New Zealand Double Hut is the one I have visited the most. Many times I have wandered to the hut at the base of Mt Taylor(2333m) on my own, and also many times I have had company on the journey. I have never been to the hut during the summer months, so I have only had one occasion when there were other people also using the hut. As we pulled into the Lake Heron car park we were happy to see it empty, and it looked like we would again have the place to ourselves. We have a mixed bag forecast, starting with sunshine, and then a southerly change bringing rain and the chance of snow the next day. Along with having someone to talk to, another benefit of hiking with others is getting a perspective of the size of the area in photos. At 2333m Mt Taylor is one of the biggest peaks near Christchurch, and its size dwarfs anyone walking towards it. After crossing the plains of Castleridge Station, the track crosses over the icy waters of the Swin Stream, and on this occasion the lack of snow didn’t mean the water was any different to the last time I crossed it. After a refreshing and compulsory foot bath we continued on to the hut, which we found empty as hoped. On my first couple of visits there were large poplar trees near the hut, and firewood was in abundance. However not long after my first visit these trees were cut down, and now finding firewood can be a tough task. We managed to scrounge some wood, and it wasn’t long before we had a fire roaring and our boots steaming as they dried in the glorious warmth. The sunset at the hut is always a treat as the sky becomes an incredible collection of oranges, reds and purples. And because of the elevation the colors are mirrored in the waters of Lake Heron. With the day drawing to a close we retreated to our sleeping bags for a night’s sleep in the now warm little home. The tin walls shook to the sound of Jeremy’s legendary snoring as the night slowly rolled on – a positive to this was that we weren’t bothered by any rats, mice or possums!

Hiking towards the Taylor Range

Early-ish the next day we were up and getting ready to retreat back to the car park, as the sky was now a dark grey, with the signs of an incoming storm starting to show. We made the dash across the plains and back across the chilly waters of Swin Stream, and were close to the end of the track when we felt the first drops of rain. Luckily for us the early start meant we were well on our way back home when the real rain set in, and as we headed back to Christchurch we chatted about yet another successful mission to Double Hut. Have you been there?

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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