Powell Hut no longer accessible


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    • #29646 Reply

      If you came past Powell Hut at New Years and found the track open, gas on, mattresses still there and water in the tank – none of that is available any longer. Powell Hut, as we have known it for some time is now no longer accessible, while it gets rebuilt. Four of us walked past the ‘construction site’ on Saturday and witnessed a hive of activity – demolition is well underway with several workers and a digger digging away. While the hut’s still standing (it looked to be accommodation for the workers) the deck has gone making the building look like an old school house. So, sometime in the last two weeks they have boarded across the track with the usual ‘track closed/danger’ signs a short distance below the hut. A temporary track has been cut in the bush. It sidles around the hut on the eastern side. The diversion comes out just above the hut and in closer proximity to it providing a safe viewing point to watch the activity. (Mountain House Shelter, an hour below the hut, continues to provide shelter, water and a toilet.)

    • #29811 Reply
      Tony Gazley

      Powell Hut update at 30 January 2019. Demolition complete, site leveled and some new piles in place refer photo.
      Further updates to come.

    • #29868 Reply
      Tony Gazley

      Powell Hut update at 7 February 2019. Wall and roof framing in place. RAB board (rigid air-barrier) mostly fixed to exterior of walls. Refer photo.

      Currently there are 6 builders on site – working for 10 days (living in a dog-box sized shed) then 4 days off.

      Note that access to the site is prohibited (as it should be for a construction site) so I gave my camera to a builder from McIntyre Construction who kindly took the photo from the heli-pad.

      Further updates to come.

    • #29940 Reply
      Tony Gazley

      Powell Hut update at 18 February 2019.

      Roof cladding fixed – but no final external cladding to walls yet. There will be a large mostly roofed balcony running the full length of the east side. Refer photos for general view and north and south ends of hut.

      Next visit will try and get one of the builders to take a few photos of the inside.

      Further updates to come – stay tuned.

    • #29947 Reply

      Tony deserves to be the new hut’s first guest.

    • #30117 Reply
      Tony G

      Powell Hut update at 6 March 2019.
      Hut taking shape now – refer to photos of general view, the amazing deck, inside the kitchen/ social area, and north side.
      The first impression with the scaffolding gone is the UUGE deck – 100 sq m of outdoor living!
      Wall cladding is fixed to north side and part east side and first sliding window fitted.
      Inside the wall framing is complete and fixing the plywood linings is the next rainy day job.
      The amount of timber in the building is mind boggling for a tramping hut – 10 tonnes in the flooring and sub floor (and more to be added) – 8 tonnes in the walls and 6 tonnes in the roof framing.
      The interior layout includes 4 bunkrooms (2 with 10 bunks and 2 with 6 bunks). There is a kitchen and social area that is much the same as the last hut. There is a large entry foyer with grill floor for boots and wet gear and a separate custodians room. Heating will be wood burner.
      Construction is a bit behind schedule due to some spells of very bad weather (no surprises there).
      Further updates to come – watch this space.

      [thanks to McIntyre Construction for assistance with photos]

    • #30174 Reply
      Tony Gazley

      Powell Hut update at 19 March 2019.
      Misty day – builders too busy to take photos or talk.
      Some more windows fitted (at rear and north end of building). Apparently the window fixing and flashing details for the severe weather exposure are very awkward and require special skills and are slow going.
      Photo shows very clearly (?) the difference in outside appearance from previous visit. No info on how much work done inside. But apparently end April completion date unlikely to be met.
      Further updates to come.

    • #30198 Reply
      Tony Gazley

      Powell Hut update at 23 March 2019.
      Another misty day but pleasantly calm.
      Six photos show: interior of hut looking in the north door; windows in the east (front) bunkrooms; windows in the east kitchen/ social area; south side; west (rear) side; and the north side.
      All the windows have been installed but some flashings still to be fixed in place.These will essentially complete the outside of the building except for some additional sub-floor bracing.
      The front bunkrooms will have a great view of the sunrise and will likely be the first-choice rooms.
      All the interior wall and ceiling insulation is installed. The woodburner from the old hut will be removed and replaced by a new one of the same model.
      So starting to look like a real hut now – but still plenty of fit-out work required inside before it is finished. The front deck still seems HUUGE.

      [thanks to McIntyre Construction for assistance with photos]

    • #30203 Reply

      Nice meeting you yesterday Tony (in our party of 3), looks like you a doing a stellar job with your updates.

    • #30515 Reply
      Tony G

      Powell Hut update 11 April 2019.

      Interior work is progressing. The 5 latest photos show (together with sundry building materials and tools etc): the kitchen/ social area looking towards the rear (north) door; the kitchen/ social area looking down the corridor to the bunkrooms (the fire escape window from the warden’s room is at the far end); the main entry foyer (east door from the deck) with floor grates for dirty boots and dripping wet clothes; one of the 10-bunk rooms on the east side; and one of the 6-bunk rooms on the west side.
      The builder expects to be completed in 3 to 4 weeks – all going well. But now depends a lot on the sub-trades – painters, plumber (for the water tank and supply and the new woodburner, and the electrician and alarm installer. Yes! there will be a fire alarm system installed with smoke and heat detectors. An interesting concept for a backcountry hut – it’s a long way for firefighters to drag their hoses if they get a call.
      Watch this space for further updates.

      As usual a big thanks to the guys from McIntyre Contractors for assistance with the photos and all the info.

    • #30788 Reply
      Tony Gazley

      Powell Hut update 2 May 2019.

      Building work almost complete. The 3 latest photos show:
      1. General east outside view. Scaffolding for plumber to fix roof gutter.
      2. Kitchen and social area painted and ready for cooking benches.
      3. The south 12-bunk bunkroom with the cool sloping ladders to the upper level.

      The builder expects to be off-site in next few weeks but the hut cannot open until it receives final sign-off from the Building Consent Authority. And before this happens a fire alarm system (with its solar power) needs to be installed and a decision made on grey-water disposal. So DOC are saying prob end June opening.

      A couple of unusual features of the building. Having a fire alarm system will be interesting. It certainly will increase occupant safety but may cause unintended problems. And it is a significant extra cost to DOC who must fly a technician to the hut every 6 months to maintain the alarm in compliance with the Building Code.
      Additionally there is a passive ventilation system installed – principally to remove internal condensation from breathing and cooking. This makes sense especially for building maintenance purposes given moisture causes problems with the building structure in the long term. But because it cannot be adjusted it may make for a cold hut in winter even though the hut is fully insulated.

      But regardless it will be a wonderful front-country facility – hopefully it will be well appreciated and visitors will pay their fees to offset the $750,000 price tag.

      And again as usual a big thanks to the guys from McIntyre Contractors for assistance with the photos and the info.

    • #30901 Reply

      Once it has opened, it’d be cool to get a group together and go spend a night for a ‘tramping clubs’ opening celebration&ceremony night with all the usual tramping club stuff and some nod to Cedric the ghost – like at least one person in a sheet, a seance and an overnight alter with chocolate, map and compass (so Cedric can find his way home?). Everyone could put their own tramper offering in.

    • #30991 Reply
      Tony G

      Powell Hut update 14 May 2019.

      Building work essentially completed. The 2 latest photos show:
      1. One side of the double kitchen area – gasfitter installing the cookers.
      2. The lockers in the 10-bunk bunk room. The final locker was apparently too geometrically challenging for the architect?

      The builder expects to be off-site at the end of the week. The gas fitter also – if he can get the final lengths of pipe choppered up. Flights were cancelled early morning when the wind reached near gale. The painters need a few more days to touch up walls then clear seal the floors and bunks etc.

      So what next? The hut apparently remains unoccupied until DOC and others get the fire alarm system installed and the CCC (Code Compliance Certificate) issued by the Local Territorial Authority. When that will happen no-one seems to be sure. But in the meantime hopefully people passing by will realise the area remains a construction site and entry is still forbidden and not be tempted to trespass and clamber around.

      The new hut will be a fabulous addition the Tararau huts, but it seems certain the approx 3,000 annual bunk users will be mostly families, school groups, Holdsworth Jumbo circuit walkers and similar while club trampers and others seeking a real back-country experience will walk right past carrying their tents or go looking for more remote huts.

      It is interesting to compare the new facility with the oldest remaining hut in the Tararuas – Sayer Hut. There may be plenty of club members that would actually prefer staying at Sayer. You can take a look around this hut here.

      This is the final post to the forum on Powell from me. It has been fun following progress. Tony from McIntyre Contractors was always happy to help with photos and chat about progress. And he had plenty of stories to tell- mostly to do with very scary helicopter flights.

      So now if you want to experience the finished product you will need to wait until it is officially opened then go and see for yourself. In the meantime take a look at some other Tararua Range photos. Happy tramping


    • #31297 Reply

      DOC has confirmed that the official opening of the new Powell Hut will be on Friday 21 June 2019. Staying on the Friday night will be by booking only but after that it’s open for business.
      Happy tramping

    • #31413 Reply

      DOC have amended their alert notice on the Powell Hut webpage (link below). The new hut will be now open from Friday 12 July 2019 (delayed from 21 June 2019).


      It’s been great to see the level of interest in this post. I started the post expecting it to be a one comment topic. Tony however saw an opportunity to keep us informed by creating a photo chronology of the building’s construction and his efforts have clearly been of interest.
      Thanks again to Tony (and the assistance he got from McIntyre Contractors) for keeping us updated on the rebuild from the comfort of our homes.

    • #31862 Reply
    • #31912 Reply

      To Backcountry Hut Pass holders that might not know this, and who are looking to check out the new Powell Hut with an overnight stay.

      The DOC website states that the Backcountry Hut Pass (6 or 12 months) is not valid as payment at “Most bookable huts”.

      Powell hut is one of the exceptions (other exceptions include Jumbo Hut on the Holdsworth-Jumbo Circuit and Sunrise Hut in the Ruahine FP).

      The DOC website says Backcountry Hut Pass holders who wish to book a stay at Powell Hut can call the Masterton DOC office on 06 377-0700. You can also call (or visit) their Wellington Visitor Centre and quote your Pass number to make a booking. The Wellington VC’s number is 04 284-7770.

    • #32049 Reply
      Tony G

      Guest review. Holdsworth Hilton. 25 July 2019

      Booking. Online with internet payment. Or for Priority Card holders call 06 377-0700 and book with the very cheerful and helpful DOC person – have your card number handy when calling.
      Carparking. No undercover parking or valet service. The walk from the carpark area to the building should be shortened.
      Reception. None – with a booking it is apparently acceptable to just wander in.
      Bedrooms. Comfortable enough with only two other guests but may be fraught if hordes of strangers arrive and muscle in. Need your own blankets. No ensuite. Carpet removed for some unknown reason. No heating.
      Room service. Unacceptable – still waiting for breakfast to be delivered.
      Bathrooms. The architect apparently forgot to include any indoor toilets, showers, or a hot tub. How was the building ever approved for occupation? A stunning error that will need to be rectified.
      Dining room. A bit spartan with very basic furniture. A few lounge chairs, and jazzed-up décor would go a long way. Refer to attached photograph.
      Kitchen. Basic. No utensils. Gas cooker nice provided you have thought to bring your own pots and pans.
      View. Very good. Sunrise can be viewed from dining area or better yet outside from the deck on any of the 80 Tararua days per year that are fine. Sample photo attached.
      Lighting. Uhmmm. Solar lighting on timers is a good idea, however the timers cut out after about 2 minutes and need to be constantly reset. Annoying.
      Heating. Nice woodburner. Draws well.
      Noise. Low level but annoying hum from fire alarm panel at night. But normally the snorers and plastic bag rustlers will drown this out so probably not an issue.
      WiFi. None. Another basic omission. How will kids be kept from getting bored without incurring big phone data fees.
      Recommend to others. For those who have a normal life and enjoy those accepted civilized creature-comforts then no. For hardcore trampers who actively reject creature-comforts probably also no. However for those who wish to partly reject creature-comforts just temporarily and enjoy an easy walk to a stunning new front-country hut with friends or family to appreciate some the wonderful mountain scenery in NZ then 10/10.

    • #32215 Reply

      Things to Do from Powell Hut

        Short walk

      – ‘bag’ Mt Holdsworth at 1470m elevation. Allow two to three hours return to the hut.

        Long walk

      – make Powell Hut a lunch stop, or an overnight stop, on the Jumbo Holdsworth Circuit – an exhilarating one-day trip for the fit ones with a day pack or a multi-night tramp for those new to the Tararua tops.

        Navigation adventure

      – navigate your way along High Ridge. Check out how much flax there is at Flaxy Knob. Allow a full day for the return trip back to Powell Hut.

      • the Tararua tops lends itself to the budding photographer’s eye and may even provide some never-ending inspiration. For those with snow craft skills, winter can be particularly awesome for photography when the tops above Powell Hut are covered in snow.

      – there are endless options between Powell Hut and the East Holdsworth track junction to throw out a picnic blanket and enjoy stunning views in all directions.

        Rock climbing

      – pintsize trampers can have fun clambering the rocky outcrops on the track just below and above Powell Hut.

        Star gazing

      – Powell Hut can offer a dark night sky that makes it a great place to look at the stars. Bring along a star chart and look for constellations and other celestial sights. Or look through binoculars in search of our planetary neighbours.

        Trail running

      – ever wondered why trail running has become so popular? Get a taste by taking a run down to Mountain House and back. If you like it, perhaps you’ll find yourself at the start line of next year’s Hooper Loop or Jumbo Holdsworth Trail Race.

        East Holdsworth Track

      – looking for an alternative way back to the Holdsworth carpark? There are two other options to the Gentle Annie track you probably came up. One is to head up to Mt Holdsworth and then drop down the East Holdsworth track. The other, and shorter, is down the River Ridge Track (the track junction is 15 mins below Mountain House shelter). Both these alternatives finish with a walk along Donnelly Flat on the true right of Atiwhakatu Stream.

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