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Cone Hut is a good example of bush carpentry. Department of Conservation originally wanted to move the hut to a tramping museum to be set up at Otaki Forks. However protest by the Tararua Tramping Club championed the hut to stay in its resting place and be restored.
4.5 km south of central Carterton, the Waiohine Gorge is signposted on the right along Swamp Road. After 4 km turn right into Moffats Road and Waiohine Gorge is signposted after a further 2 km on the left along Waiohine Gorge Road (which becomes unsealed). Continue 8 km to the forest park boundary and the road end carpark, with camping area, toilets and picnic benches is a further 2 km.
Cross the swingbridge high above the Waiohine River and ascend the steep spur. The knobbly but well formed track is relentless in its 500 metre climb until it flattens out near the ridge (1 hour). A noticeable change in the forest character is accompanied by a change in track conditions. The undulations of the ridge hold water and the track can be frequently boggy.
Armies of kidney ferns shore up the tree trunks and a carpet of spleenworts, liverworts and mosses cloaks all available surfaces. After 45 minutes a distinct right turn in the track lead to a junction with the track to Cone Saddle/Cone Hut (10 minutes).
Head left and descend the hill (20 minutes) to the second junction to Cone Saddle. The screech of kaka may startle your concentration as you negotiate the roots and hollows. Cone Hut is a further 10 minutes, buried neatly in a small clearing.
Cone Hut was originally constructed in 1946 by the Tararua Tramping Club. It is a totara slab hut, ageless in its architecture and perfect in its setting. The rough pitted slabs were originally hewn with adzes and axes, a construction method continued by the Tararua Tramping Club in the 1980s, when the hut was restored. DoC flew in the totara logs, as the hut was originally constructed with in situ timber. The earthen floor maintains the indoor-outdoor flow.
North Island ▷ Wairarapa ▷ Carterton
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Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍