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New Zealand Hikers Huts - An Amazing Legacy
New Zealand is blessed with an incredible number of huts dotted about our national parks and as time takes its toll on these amazing structures, we have a bit of a dilemma on our hands. With over 900 huts to look after and a limited maintenance budget some big decisions have to be made.

One of the reasons that we have so many huts to utilise is the period when the then Forest Service was tasked with controlling a rampantly exploding population of introduced deer. At this time the only option was to go in on foot and track the deer and shoot them. As a lot of these locations were in remote parts of the backcountry the government of the time decided to put in a system of Forest Service huts for the hunters. Most of the huts had a standard design of six bunks and as a testament as to how well these structures were made the great majority of them are still here today.

These simple structures evoke an amazing emotional response for such a rudimentary shelter. At the end of a long day of hiking you can't wait to get to the hut. The instant it appears you have an immense feeling of relief, satisfaction and safety, and that's the feeling you get on a fine day! On a day when the heavens have opened up, you're soaked to the bone and your shoulders are aching you can really take solace. Soon you'll have dry clothes on and a fire roaring (if the hut has a fire place of course), a hot meal in your belly and a dry sleeping bag to get in to. You can listen to the rain drumming on the roof safe in the fact that you will still have at least 10 hours until you have to put those soaking wet clothes back on!

These bastions of shelter come in an amazing variety of shapes and sizes, from what's known as a dog kennel biv (just big enough to stand up in and normally two bunks) to 40 bunk two-storey monster's complete with solar lighting and a hut warden. As to which huts have more character that's a matter of personal opinion, but when you lay down on a bunk that's been there for 40 or 50 years you can feel the character of the hut and the people that have been there before you.

The Department of Conservation has replaced the Forest Service and have a mammoth task of being the guardians of our national parks. With only a limited budget and a massive amount of land to look after they have to carefully choose where there resources go and unfortunately some of our older huts may have to be removed as they fall in to disrepair.

But its not all doom and gloom as a small core of hardened hikers have picked up some of the slack and have adopted backcountry huts and spend there own time and money maintaining them for future generations.

If you would like to have a look at some of these amazing structures have a look at a great website devoted to remote backcountry huts in the resources below.

If you are in New Zealand and would like to visit some of these amazing huts Wilderness Hiking New Zealand have a great range of hiking trips that can take you in to some of these amazing places.

If you come to New Zealand make sure you take some time to visit some of these incredible locations and get a sense of the real New Zealand but please remember to pay your hut fees as these got towards maintenance and will ensure these huts will be there for another 50 years.
About the Author
This article is written by Cameron Huband. For more information have a look at his great website about remote backcountry huts: Remote Huts.
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