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New Zealand's 14 most epic backcountry huts

DOC runs 950 huts in New Zealand's most scenic corners. Mueller Hut, Aoraki. Photo / Daniel Pietzsch,
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Thomas Bywater's top picks of New Zealand's 950 scenically appointed public stopovers.

There's no doubt, New Zealand is a looker.

Aotearoa's natural landscapes command a special power to attract longing looks from tourists and luxury lodge builders. There's an entire subgenre of "#CabinPorn" (not as naughty as it sounds) dedicated to Kiwi bach cool.

Self-contained, scenic and stunningly remote – there are few accommodations that capture the independent, untamed spirit of the landscape quite so neatly.

However, a break in a luxury setting needn't cost the earth.

In New Zealand, we are lucky that more than a third (33.4 per cent) of all land is legally protected conservation land. About 8.5 million hectares comes under the protection of DoC. Among them are well-known landmarks and no fewer than 950 scenically appointed cabins, in all shapes and sizes.

It's no wonder then that when the Milford Track opened in June, all 120 bunks booked out for the season in 40 minutes flat.

While communal bunks, Primus stoves and congested snores might not scream luxury, it is the setting of these huts which is priceless.

With low-season bunks costing from $5 a night – like earplugs – they are a luxury that anyone can afford. Some are free.

Here's our pick of New Zealand's 14 most scenic public cabins.