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Kiwi Hut

Kiwi Hut

(Kiwi Hut: Photo Graeme Jackson 2017)

Maintenance Status

Kiwi Hut is a maintain-by-community project by Graeme Jackson of Hokitika. The Jacksons have a long-standing connection with the Taramakau valley. Kiwi was one of the last huts proposed for removal by DOC, prior to a 2104 policy shift back to hut retention with community assistance. It has been traditionally used by hunters, trampers and day-trippers, and is now getting a lot of Te Araroa Trail traffic. It might need to go back to DOC full maintenance because of this new dynamic, however it's probably getting a better level of care under Graeme at the moment. Graeme obtained some ORC funding to carry out needed repairs.

Kiwi is an easy two-hour stroll from the roadend and a great place to introduce kids and the less-experienced to the pleasures of back country huts and open fire cuisine. Its closeness also means that it is vulnerable to the hoon element, so having a local take ownership is likely to add considerable protective influence.


Taramakau catchment. Grid Ref: E1495191/ N5265340 (BU21 952 653). Map BU21. Altitude 340m. Kiwi Hut is located on the TR of the Taramakau on a bush terrrace between Jacksons and Michael creeks. The Hut site was until quite recently hemmed in by mature red beech forest and was shady and damp as a consequence. DOC recently assisted Graeme with the felling of some of the closest trees, allowing much more light and wind ventilation to get in. There is a large grass clearing just below the Hut, then a narrow band of forest before the main River flat.

Kiwi Hut location


Access to Kiwi Hut is a relatively simple affair and can be done in the dark on Friday night if an early start is neccessary the next day. Fords of the Otira and Taramakau rivers are required however, and both rivers may be uncrossable or dangerous after heavy rain. The route starts at the Aickens Corner carpark on SH73 follows a fenceline, across paddocks, and through small gate to the Otira River. The Otira is forded diagonally in a NE direction towards the point of bush on its TR where it meets the Taramakau. Marker poles lead from here along the bush fringes on the TL of the Taramakau, or a more direct NE line can be taken through paddocks and patches of gorse and scrub on the riverbed. Both routes connect with a 4WD track that is then followed. A poled route to Lake Kaurapataka splits off the track 100m before Pfeifer Creek and heads SE through patches of regenerating scrub. The route to Kiwi continues along the 4WD trail until roughly opposite Taverners Creek, where a ford across the braids of the River can be made. This is not usually problematic at normal flows. The 4WD track is picked up again on the TR above Jacksons Creek and followed to the Kiwi turnoff. A large routered sign here indicates the start of a track that leads through a narrow band of beech forest and across a big grassy clearing to the low terrace on which the Hut is sited. Allow around two hours to reach Kiwi Hut from the highway.

If the Otira is up there is a flood route up its TR to the Deception Footbridge. This was was last cut in 2012 and adds a good hour to the trip and is probably only useful if the Otira stops you on the way out. For those heading upriver, if Otira is too high to ford, then it's unlikely you'd be able to cross either the Taramakau or the Otehake. The shelter marked on the topo map at the Taramakau/ Otira confluence has been washed away.


Kiwi Hut is a lengthened version of the NZFS SF70 open fire design. It had six bunks originally, was built in the 1960's, is lined, and has large vestibule at the door. Graeme has added a couple of bunks in this space. Kiwi has roof-fed water tank, woodshed, and longdrop toliet.


Kiwi Hut is in reasonably good condition currently. Graeme has repainted it and replaced some piles and rotten window frames. The chimney is nearing the end of its shelf life and already has patches rivetted on the outside, a metre or so above the ground. A while back DOC felled some large beeches that were seriously shading the Hut out.


It is a couple of hours of mostly river travel from Kiwi Hut up to Locke Stream Hut. The last section is tracked on the TL from Locke Stream. It would be possible to go all the way up the TR if the River were in flood.

The track to Townsend Hut starts around 20 minutes upriver from Kiwi Hut on the TL of the valley. Head along the grass flats on the TR initially, crossing over to the TL around where Michael Creek comes in. The route to Townsend Hut starts at the unnamed creek 400m upriver from Michael Creek. The creek has changed course at the bottom and now runs through the bush downriver from the original creekbed. From the large orange triangle at the bottom of the hill there is a marked track through the bush on the true left of the large creek bed. This occasionally pops out onto the edge of the creek bed before finishing at about the 450m contour where the last part of the route follows the creek up to the start of the main track on the true right of the creek at 500m. It is marked by a large orange triangle. Do NOT follow any of the pink cruise tape which is prolific here – if you are following pink tape you are on the wrong route. The track proper climbs steeply up the bush faces onto a narrow ridge, and follows this up a short distance onto a bench the montane zone. From here it ascends in a series of steps through sub-alpine forest to the scarp on which the Hut is located. The last stretch along the scarp is through open tussock patches with small tarns. The route up from the Taramakau valley is in pretty good condition currently. John Roper-Lindsay and Dan Murphy did some trimming and marking on it in July 2020. Allow 2-2.5 hours for the trip from Kiwi Hut to Townsend Hut, or 4-5 hours from the roadend.

Koropuku Hut can be accessed from Kiwi Hut via the lower Otehake River. Ford to the Taramakau and head down the TL bank to the Otehake confluence. Boulderhop up the Otehake for around an hour, crossing and recrossing where necessary. The start of the track to Koropuku Hut is marked by a large orange triangle opposite where the Lake Karapataka track drops down to the River. A swingbridge marked here on older maps was removed by DOC in 2012. The track enters the bush and follows a spur up to the tussock line and is is marked with red, or occasionally white permolat. It has been maintained for a number of years now by Frank King and Honora Renwick of Christchurch.

There are great views of Lake Kaurapataka and Mts. Alexander and Pfeifer from the Koropuku tops. Cairns and the odd post lead South from the bush edge along a bench and up a series of small terraces to a large tarn at 1495408E/ 5260491N (BV21 954 605), and along to another group of tarns East of Point 1259m. Drop into the Koropuku catchment down a scree just South of the tarns. The scree becomes a steep gut which is skirted on the TR. The gut becomes a creek just past a large rock outcrop with a track exiting and entering the bush on the TL at the top of a series of waterfalls. The track follows a steep gut down before rejoining the creek. This section is starting to overgrow and was given a cursory trim in 2012. A second section of track exits the TL further down, dropping to around the 850m contour before leveling and sidling up the TR of the Koropuku. The terrain eventually flattens and the track passes through a clearing named "The Orchard," 150m from the Hut. Allow 6-8 hours from Kiwi Hut to Koropuku Hut.

Access to the tops behind Kiwi Hut is possible up most of the leading spurs which have fairly well-defined deer trails on them. The creeks on the other hand should be avoided without prior knowledge of their topography. In good conditions it should be possible to cross over the range to Top Trent and Top Crooked Huts. I recut and marked an old NZFS track from the Mt. Dixon tops down to the former in 2011. There are three snow stakes and a few small tarns on the ridge just above the top entrance of the track, which is located around E1504392/ N5271380 (BU21 044 714). A 100 metre band of low alpine scrub between the tussock and the first stake is fairly easy to push through. The track drops down the spur on the TL of an unnamed side-creek, flattening near the bottom and veering West across the terrace to the Hut.

There is mention in the Top Crooked hutbook of an old, unfollowable track up Tom's Creek in the Taramakau. There is a track marked up the spur behind Top Crooked Hut on the older maps, but there is no information currently on its condition, and it is possibly very overgrown.


None currently. Graeme has requested that DOC add a couple of bunks to help allay the pressure from Te Araroa traffic.

Provisions on Site

An axe, a broom, and a small pan.