Trampers and hunters now have a place to rest within the Waianakarua Scenic Reserve, and it is all thanks to the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association North Otago branch.
A group of volunteers spent seven days building a cabin in the reserve, south of Oamaru, this month and hut project co-ordinator Barry Wilson could not be more pleased with the result.
“I have never worked with a better crew,” Mr Wilson said.
Although the build – led by builder Alan Holmquist – took a week, the lead up spanned two and a-half years, requiring a lot of perseverance on Mr Wilson’s part.
Between an independent assessment of environmental effects and a geotechnical assessment, resource and building consent from the Waitaki District Council, consultation with local groups and Ngai Tahu, and fundraising, the association had a long journey to get to this point.
Earlier this year, the association was given permission from the Department of Conservation, which owned the reserve.
Since then, the next thing the association had to contend with was the weather.
Fortunately, volunteers only lost a few hours to rain during the build and once the fog cleared on delivery day, two thirds of the materials were helicoptered to the site and the rest the following day.
Funded and built by the association, the “Kahikatea Lodge” would join Doc’s wider hut network and the association would act as its custodian.
Doc senior community ranger Craig Wilson said the new hut would be an excellent addition to the reserve and hut network.
The association would retain ownership of the hut and was responsible for maintaining it to the standard required for huts on public conservation land, he said.
“We expect the hut will receive limited visitors outside of recreational hunters, as its location is based on being a good site to hunt from and there is no maintained track to it.
“However, some experienced trampers and other outdoor enthusiasts may still choose to visit.”
Doc thanked the North Otago Deerstalkers Association for its patience and thoroughness throughout the process. The Kahikatea Lodge would be available for public use under a booking system, which was being developed by the association.