Appreciating The Past (Part One) – Tribulation Hut

“On a Mish” #202 Appreciating the Past (Part One). Tribulation Hut. Hakatere Conservation Area. 1.7.2014. The scattering of huts throughout the mountains of Aotearoa make for some of the best hiking in the world and some of the best backcountry accommodation. You could spend a lifetime staying in each of the 950+ huts that are standing in silence waiting to provide shelter for weary adventurers…

Our collection of conservation areas and national parks all include their own huts, and the style and history of each of the buildings reflects the area it’s built in. Some of the building were constructed by mountaineers to act as a base for climbing, while others were once merely a place to stay while you went to work.

Hakatere Conservation Area was originally just a couple of massive high country stations, with sheep and cattle grazing the mountainous landscapes. This history is rich with tales of horseback mustering during autumn and spring snow storms, and stories of being thankful the shelter was available as they could be hut bound for days while heavy rain stopped any safe travel outside.

Most are topped with a dented and faded corrugated iron roof to stop the rain, and walls lined with sun beaten tin to keep the nor’west wind out. Some don’t even have concrete foundations and instead of a concrete floor you will find dirt acting as carpet. Along with the huts there are hundreds of fence posts and miles of wire, all of which have been lugged in on horseback or the backs of the musterers. Tough work was the norm there efforts are still awe inspiring. Seeing a fence line disappearing up into the hills and knowing that it got there without modern technology like helicopters makes you really appreciate the way things used to be.

Every inch of each high country hut and the areas around them ooze history, and simply visiting the place keeps the farming history of the past alive in the hills of Hakatere.

From Christchurch it is less than an hour to reach the outskirts of the massive 60,000 hectare Hakatere Conservation Area, and once there a decision needs to be made as to which part of the park you are going to visit. The place offers so much to hikers that choosing where to go can be the most difficult part of the outing!

I was starting to run out of easy access huts to visit in the area, or so I thought. I had spent plenty of time exploring the inner regions of the park and was after a new place to wander in. After a quick look at the map I spotted Redcliffe Stream and the track to Tribulation Hut. A new hut to add to the list of ‘Huts I have stayed in’.

In around 90 minutes or so I had left the constant hum of Christchurch behind and I was at the roadside car park at the start of the track. Blue skies and a cool breeze accompanied my excitement about visiting a new hut in an area I have explored so much.

Double Hill Run Road is the way to access the massive Rakaia Valley and the road offers such good views it could be classed as its own journey. I have spent a lot of my childhood life around Rakaia with whanau and, even though I grew up around the area, this was my first time driving the road on the true right of one of New Zealand’s biggest rivers.

Whenever I see the many braids of the river I think back to the days when early Maori would cross it without the safety of a huge bridge like we have today. For those walking the Te Araroa Trail the Rakaia and Rangitata are arguably the biggest challenges.

I had a far from encouraging weather forecast for the next couple of days with nor’west rain approaching. It looked like I might get to the hut in the dry, but rain would be joining me at some stage on my adventure. With that being said I’ve never let a little rain spoil a mish, so I threw my pack on and started hiking in the direction of the tin walls of Tribulation Hut…

Looking back down at the Rakaia River from near Redcliffe Saddle

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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