A standard 8 bunker, reached in 2hrs DOC time along a flat but adventurous track.
Located just a little north of Haast, this is the first hut on the Haast-Paringa Cattle Track, a 3-4 through trip.
There’s a DOC sign at the highway, encouraging you down a down a dodgy looking vehicle track to the start of the track.
It initially follows a fenceline right beside the river, so the first bit needs close supervision of little people. Not too far from the start, you have to hop over the fence to avoid where the river has washed out the farmland!
Then the track enters thick west coast bush. Although there’s no real hills, the track undulates slightly, with all the (massive) puddles, mud and tree roots you’d expect on the coast. Wet feet are a given, but the kids love the splashing and the challenge 🙂
The markers are a little tricky to follow in a few places: this is not a great walk track! Suitable for adults with a good head for knowing how to follow a sparsely marked track.
The track emerges from the forrest, and crosses a cool swingbridge (it’s got good mesh sides, so pretty safe for the kids to go by themselves..) From here it’s a long slog across tussocky flats, (which are a bit boggy) and finding the ‘track’ or markers is a bit tricky. You’ll probably just choose your own way from time to time, maybe via the riverbank or the tussock..
Either way, you’ll have good views of the Mataketake range!
The track re-enters the forest now and again, crossing a few boggy side creeks. Some inventiveness is required to avoid the worst of the bog, but it’s all part of the fun!
Later on, the track joins a 4WD farm track, as it crosses over land which is still farmed with cattle. Watch for cow pies..
The hut is on boggy flats across the main Coppermine creek, which is an ankle-shin deep ford at normal flows. Don’t forget this is the west (wet) coast when considering this trip!
It is a neat space for kids, with bunks and plenty of room inside. Also has a nice deck… Around the hut is a little damp, but there’s enough non-bog to run around and trees/forest to explore.
The only downer is that the hut is accessible via 4WD. (they come over private farmland, presumably with the landowners permission) There’s space for tents to be pitched. On our trip, we weren’t smart enough to bring a tent, and found the hut full of hunters, and another young family group that had arrived by ute.
Sooo we turned around and walked all the way back! We had 18 month olds, who walked big sections in the 1st third of the track, but then fell asleep as the parents walked back out (partially in the dark!) Never mind, the kids stayed asleep in the car as we ate a late dinner at the Hard Antler pub in Haast (great feeds, if you don’t mind the 100 deer heads on the ceiling).
Photos are here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/EJ4RBosssWgvGfBj6
Visited by Dan Clearwater and family.