This involved walking into the huts with 7 days worth of food, staying at the hut for a week, keeping it clean, checking people were paying to stay there, meeting loads of fascinating people, seeing my first gun, taking 1000s of photos, learning how to light a fire, overcoming my fear of swing bridges and when all that was done, spending my time enjoying the amazing beauty of the National Park. We spent Monday-Monday in the huts before walking out to fresh food, a shower and clean clothes, only to return the following Monday.
We had a really fun weekend of training at the end of November, it was great getting to know all the other rangers – actually meet who we’d be talking with over the radios over the next few months
Everyone had their favorite hut to stay in, I’m torn between 2, my least favorite was Blyth Hut – I cut my leg open falling over in a stream on the way there, there was a sign saying you’re 5 minutes away that’s clearly wrong, people thought it was haunted. Although you did get the most amazing views of Mount Taranaki and there was a great waterfall there too!
For me the walk to Rangipo was the hardest – a major swing bridge to cross (I hate these) and you’re in the middle of a lahar path (something I’d never heard of until my ranger training!). The drop-off point is the most remote, down a desert track and up into the middle of no where, also you don’t see the hut from afar, the route undulates until suddenly the hut is right there in front of you – a very welcome sight! It has the most amazing sunsets and sunrises and a wonderful deck for lying and gazing at the endless stars
The two I’m torn between are Whakapapaiti – the first hut is stayed in and Mangaehuehu – the last. Whakapapaiti has the shortest walk into it (from the Bruce Road) and also a longer walk out to the village with just the small matter of an unbridged river to cross…..
I love the view from the ranger quarters, the river, the little waterfalls you can walk to, the fact I heard a kiwi there one night. Although I did also fall over here, bash into a tree branch and got a massive bruise and bruised my hand chopping wood……..
On my last trip into the huts I spent a couple of nights at Rangipo before walking round to Mangaehuehu.
I was nervous about the walk having heard there were some pretty steep bits, but I was pleasantly surprised by the route and as ever the scenery was amazing. The hut itself had 360 views, the ranger quarters have 180 views out across the valley – I loved it and to be honest was a bit gutted I’d not been sooner
It was a truly amazing experience, so lucky not to have found a ‘proper’ job giving me the chance to spend 3 months in a place of such beauty. If you ever get the chance to volunteer with DOC – do it! There are some unmissable opportunities out there