The Tin Tent for Two – Lagoon Saddle Hut

“On a Mish” #192 The Tin Tent for Two. Lagoon Saddle Hut. Craigieburn Forest Park. 6.5.2013. The Alpine Highway through the mountains from Christchurch to Arthurs Pass Village is littered with heaps of excellent hiking tracks, with a good variety of different lengths and difficulties. Many also have awesome huts to visit too. An epic, and not too taxing, adventure to be had in the Craigieburn Mountains is a trip to Lagoon Saddle, and a night’s stay at one of the two huts located in the forest just below the saddle…

The track starts just off the highway near the Arthurs Pass Wilderness Lodge. It immediately passes the small and historic Bealey Hut, before a slow climb up through the forest that covers the lowers reaches of Mt Bruce(1630m). The grind up through the dark forest is rewarded with views of the huge glistening peaks of the Shaler Range, including Mt Murchison(2408m), the largest peak in Arthurs Pass National Park. The open air on the north face of Mt Bruce(1630m) is a welcoming change from the almost claustrophobia-causing dense forest. And from the track above you get great views of the Waimakariri and Bealey Valleys, and the mighty mountains that tower above them. The track swings to the south for the last climb up to Lagoon Saddle, then drops down into the beech forest on the other side, towards the location of the two huts. The newer A-frame hut is in much better condition than the original hut, which is now home to several generations of rats, mice and the odd possum. Not long after showing up at the hut a Swiss fella turned up, and we began to have a broken English, international adventure yarn (chat). It turned out that the older fella was a very experienced climber, with several major climbing accomplishments in the both Swiss and New Zealand Alps, and he had devised a far more interesting route back to the Arthurs Pass Highway than me. I had planned to just retrace my steps back to my car near the Wilderness Lodge, however his intentions were to climb over Mid Hill(1831m) to Bruce Saddle(1588m), then continue following the ridge all the way to Hut Spur, and the Track down past Bealey Spur Hut to then finally end up down at the road.

Frosty morning at Lagoon Hut

It’s safe to say he started well before I was up early-ish the next day, and both of us couldn’t have asked for a better early May day. The smoke from the small outside campfire sat motionless in the still morning air as I packed my gear, and then cleaned up the cozy little hut. Not long after leaving the hut I hiked into the sunlight, and the warmth encouraged more left foot, right foot action along the well marked track. As I got closer to the forest above the car park, I first heard, then watched a train rumble its way through the formerly peaceful Waimakariri, and then slowly up into the Bealey Valley. I highly recommend a stroll up to one of the huts on Lagoon Saddle, just remember the dark forest at the start will finish, and the view above it is epic!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter