Burn Hut, Tararua Range, Saturday-Sunday September 22-23, 2012
Nobody had been here before, except Dorothy, who tramped here several years ago in the reverse route, but she couldn’t remember anything until she got to the hut!
So we drove down to the Tararua Ranges and turned from Shannon. This road leads past the disused hydro station then winds for about 10 kilometres up to the upper Mangahau Dam Reservoir. After shuttling cars so one was at the bottom reservoir (presumably this was the end of the looped track), it was close to midday before we set off from the top dam.
The sign clearly read Burn hut 3-4 hrs. This was to be our last sign for some time. We crossed the dam and the track led up the true left bank of the Mangahao River. We walked up, over, along, down the beech forest ensuring we watched every step so as not to get tangled up in the root systems. As we came into open sections, the sun shone warmly on us.
An hour later, we were back in the river making many crossings, then bushbashing up the bank, and back in the water. After 2½ hours and feeling hungry, we found a nice sunny spot on the river’s edge to have our lunch. Half hour’s walking after lunch along the stream, we finally found the sign leading us to Burn Hut. Imagine the moans when we read: Burn Hut 3-3½ hrs.
We made a gradual climb to the tops and were treated to spectacular views coast to coast. Walking along the ridge surrounded by alpine grass, it didn’t take long to spot Burn Hut across the valley. Continuing along the ridge and through the leatherwood, we finally arrived there 2½ hrs from the sign. So the tramp took around 5½ hrs, not 3-4.
This is a tiny deer-stalkers hut, sleeps 10 but is very cosy, and has a handy benched enclosed area for packs and boots. Great sunset and stunning views, with discussions over which settlement we thought the lights came from. The rescue helicopter flew over several times but ignored us.
We woke to a brisk frost and walked out the shorter route, breaking the ice as we went. Once we got down into the forest, the track just seemed to go on and on. We finally arrived at the dam reservoir 3 hours later to realise that the car was at the wrong dam! Damn it! So the party split to walk another 5 km to each car.
Steak pies, muffins and lattes in Shannon were well deserved. And we’d bagged another hut.
Trampers: Alison Greer, Les O’Shea, Sue Marshall, Ted Angove, Dorothy Sole, Simon Hill, Sue Titter, Denise Payne and Sue Martin.