Kaimai DoC hut offers place to sleep

By Staff reporter

Visitors to one of the Kaimai's most significant historic places will enjoy a more comfotrable sleep this summer, as advanced bookings become available for the Waitawheta Hut.

From November 1, the hut will become a booked hut, allowing keen trampers to plan ahead and guarantee themselves a bunk.

Casual visitors will still be able to camp outside the hut in exchange for one Department of Conservation (DoC) backcountry hut ticket.

DoC Tauranga ranger Pete Huggins said the booking system would be a significant benefit for overnight trampers.

"It's important to create a reliable overnight stay for people at this popular location,'' he said.

"You can check the availability of bunks before going on your trip and book the right number of spaces for your group.''

The booking system will go live on the DoC website on Monday October 1 but the change to becoming a booked hut is not until November.

Mr Huggins said: "We expect the pressure on the facilities and environment at the hut and mill site to be reduced once the hut is limited to 26 people.''

"This will create a much better atmosphere and experience for visitors, especially those that are new to the backcountry.''

About 6,000 people a year visit the scenic forests and historic attractions in the Waitawheta Valley, which is located near Waihi.

Mr Huggins said this number was expected to grow.

The overnight trip to the hut takes walkers along the 100-year old kauri logging tramway to the site of one of New

Zealand's iconic kauri logging mills.

"A delightful waterfall and glow-worm grotto nearby make this a great place to enjoy nature,'' Mr Huggins said.

He said the DoC was developing Waitawheta into a unique overnight backcountry experience for families and groups, based around the nationally significant kauri sawmill and tramway.

Work includes the installation of two more bridges over the Waitawheta River, extension of the track westwards to link to Mount Te Aroha and the reconstruction of parts of the original sawmill.

The cost of staying at the hut has not changed _ $15 per adult per night and $7.50 for children aged 5-17 years.

For more information about historic attractions in the area, visit the DoC website www.doc.govt.nz/kaimaiheritage or phone the Tauranga Area Office on 07 578 7677


- Bay of Plenty Times

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