“Bunk for the Night” subtitled “A Guide To New Zealand’s Best Backcountry Huts”
by Shaun Barnett, Rob Brown and Geoff Spearpoint, published by Potton and Burton, price $49.99. Reviewed by Tony Orman
New Zealand has a great range of backcountry huts and many with a great history of 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.
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 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 So seeing Kime Hut among the 201 selections brought back memories although the old Kime Hut has since been replaced by a modern 20 bunk hut which is pictured in this outstanding book.
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.
Nostalgia is undeniable. So too is visualising and planning future trips and this book will no doubt inspire a list of “must visit” huts.
Photographs are excellent, often sensitively taken and the description to each hut concise and informative. However some did lack an indication of access times from road ends.
Both a splendid reference book and handsomely produced, it doubles as an impressive coffee table book. Highly recommended.