A common weekend activity for students studying abroad in New Zealand is to go camping on the weekends. Many of the best trails in New Zealand are very long and often require camping overnight to finish the tramp. However, there is another alternative to camping which many people enjoy, but isn’t as common in other places around the world.
The Department of Conservation, DOC, manages over 900 huts around New Zealand, providing a great alternative to camping. Each hut is open to anyone hiking the trails, and often times campers pitch their tents outside the huts if there isn’t enough space. Some huts require bookings, especially during busy seasons, and other huts are run on a first come, first serve basis. Huts can range from having only a few beds, to having space for over 20 people at a time. Some come equipped with mattresses, electricity and cooking utensils, and others are just single wooden rooms with the bare minimum. If you’re lucky, there is a long-drop nearby to use for the restroom.
With my semester almost over, I felt that my time in New Zealand would not be complete without the experience of staying in a DOC hut for a weekend. With this goal in mind, two friends and I decided to hike in the Hakatere Conservation Park and stay overnight at Boundary Creek Hut. It was a 10 mile tramp there, and these photos capture the best moments of the hike.
The sun set while we were nearing the hut, providing great lighting over Mystery Lake, and we reached the hut in the evening. The hut was a single room with only the fireplace for light and heat, and two small windows. It was homey and it was small, and we loved it. After cooking dinner, setting up our sleeping bags and warming up by the fire, we went outside and enjoyed amazing views of the Milky Way before going to sleep.
In the morning we woke up early, packed our bags and ate our epic trail mix that we had made two nights before. We took a longer route (about 15 miles) back to the car park in order to see a different part of the conservation park, and saw a couple of rainbows on the way. The weather really does change quickly in New Zealand; when we woke up the sky was clear and sunny, but we ended up hiking the last 3 or so hours back to the car in the pouring rain and sleet.
Despite the dampening weather on the last day, this weekend was definitely one of my favorite weekends in New Zealand. Staying overnight in a DOC hut in New Zealand was such a unique experience that I’d never had before; and like I’ve said in my previous posts, I highly recommend this experience to others!
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<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:2.35pt; margin-right:12.3pt; margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin-left:5.0pt"><span style="line-height:115%">One fun fact about myself is that I am not sure the exact date of my birthday! Before I was adopted, I was a baby in China and my parents could not keep me because of the one child policy. Therefore, as was the way of many families in China in the 90s, I was left on the steps of the police station. When the police found me, they estimated my age. This estimate is the age on my birth certificate and on every official document. It is interesting to think about my birthday being one day before it is written, or maybe a few days after!</span></p>